Many people with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), find strength and long-term wellness through pharmacological therapy or individual and group therapy sessions. These treatments occur in various settings and are usually facilitated by a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, nurses, mental health aides, wellness practitioners, and peer support professionals. While numerous treatment settings and approaches are available for mental health disorders, your mental health condition, severity, and specific treatment needs determine the best one for you.
Mental Health Treatment Settings
Treatment for mental health can take place in a variety of settings. The environment or the type of care a patient requires is determined by various factors, including the nature and severity of the individual’s psychological condition, physical health, and recommended treatment. The three primary types of treatment settings where mental health care or services are provided are:
Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU)
Individuals in psychiatric or psychosocial crises at risk of hospitalization are given short-term, community-based supportive care and treatment through the crisis stabilization unit. Although most people with mental health disorders do not require hospitalization, some may require admission to a CSU to be closely monitored, accurately diagnosed, and have their medications adjusted or stabilized. The goal of CSU is not to confine you indefinitely but rather to provide 24-hour care, stabilize the patient, and return them to the community as soon as possible.
Psychiatric hospitalization may occur either voluntarily or by the insistence of a family member or mental health professional. A person may be involuntarily hospitalized when it is established that they are gravely disabled or are a danger to themselves or others.
A person can be admitted to a crisis stabilization unit for a variety of reasons, including:
- High risk of causing severe harm to themselves or others.
- If they are experiencing an onset of severe mental health symptoms, such as mania, extreme agitation, or psychosis, that cannot be treated safely in other environments.
- Experiencing suicidal ideation and behaviors.
- Inability to care for themselves or function daily due to mental health symptoms.
Crisis stabilization units commonly use medication to stabilize patients in mental health crises. Among these medications are antipsychotics, sedatives, and anti-anxiety medications. These medications can aid in the stabilization of someone who has psychosis, extreme agitation, or general dysfunction as a result of mental health issues.
Inpatient Mental Health Treatment
Inpatient or residential care is a term commonly used to describe treatment that requires a patient to reside in a facility that provides round-the-clock medical and psychiatric care for a certain period. This level of care is best suited for individuals with severe to moderate mental health disorders, those who need constant medical supervision, and individuals who do not have a good support system at home or have unstable living situations.
Inpatient treatment is relatively intensive and can last anywhere between 14 to 60 days or more, depending on the person’s mental health condition and treatment needs.
Types of services typically offered at an inpatient facility include:
- Psychiatric assessment – A team of physicians and mental health professionals will administer a battery of assessments and evaluations. They will collaborate to get an accurate diagnosis, from which a tailored treatment plan is developed.
- Psychotherapy and counseling – Individual therapy with a psychotherapist and group counseling sessions with other patients will form the foundation of your treatment. You may also benefit from family therapy to help reintegrate and broaden your support network outside of treatment.
- Education – It is essential to learn as much as possible about your condition so that you can effectively manage your symptoms after leaving the facility. You will learn to identify triggers, handle stress, and prevent relapses.
- Recreational therapies – Therapeutic recreational activities can benefit your healing process by encouraging the development of social skills, increased self-esteem, and creative expression. Recreational activities available at the facility may include music therapy, art therapy, physical therapy, and adventure therapy.
- Medication management – This process involves a qualified physician evaluating a patient’s need for psychiatric medications, writing a prescription, and providing ongoing medical supervision. The right medication can significantly improve patients’ quality of life while reducing symptoms.
Inpatient treatment is intended to provide a tranquil, distraction-free environment conducive to healing. Being temporarily free of your daily responsibilities can allow you to focus on self-care and improve your overall health.
Outpatient Mental Health Treatment
Outpatient treatment does not require patients to reside at the facility. Instead, it requires patients to visit the treatment center or therapist’s office on specific days for psychological therapy and other wellness services. Since outpatient treatment allows patients to receive treatment while maintaining their everyday lives, this treatment is best suited for individuals with mild to moderate symptoms, a solid support system, a high level of independence, and a strong commitment to their treatment plan.
Outpatient programs are classified into three types based on their structural complexity.
- Standard Outpatient Program – Regular visits to the outpatient treatment center are required as part of the patient’s individualized treatment plan. When scheduling therapy sessions, the patient’s work, education, and other obligations are considered. Treatment is provided weekly or more frequently, and it can last a year or longer.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – This treatment program entails three hours of treatment per day up to five days per week. IOPs are intended to give more structure and support than traditional outpatient programs while still providing patients the freedom to attend to other obligations. The duration of an IOP may range from a few weeks to one year, with 90 days being the recommended minimum.
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) – This treatment includes five or more hours of treatment per day, five to seven days a week. PHPs offer the most intensive non-residential care and are frequently beneficial for patients reintegrating into their lives after inpatient treatment. PHPs typically last 30 days before transitioning to a more flexible level of care.
Outpatient mental health treatment, like other treatment programs, can be personalized to the needs of each individual. The quantity and type of care required will be determined by the nature and severity of the individual’s psychiatric condition.
Mental Health Treatment Approaches
Now that we’ve examined the various types of treatment settings let’s go deeper into the treatment approaches employed by many of them.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a form of treatment provided by a trained mental health professional to help patients identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and learn coping skills to improve their overall wellness and healing. Psychotherapy is commonly used in inpatient and outpatient settings, either alone or with pharmacological therapy.
There are many types of psychotherapy available, including:
- Individual therapy – is a collaborative process between the counselor and the patient. A licensed therapist can assist in identifying the root causes of your thoughts and behaviors and help make positive lifestyle changes.
- Group therapy – is often led by a therapist who works with several patients simultaneously to create a safe environment for them to connect. These groups typically focus on topics relevant to all group members, such as anger management, postpartum depression, and substance abuse. Group therapy aims to bring people who have had similar experiences together in a nonjudgmental setting.
- Family therapy – helps family members improve their communication skills and resolve conflicts. This type of therapy can help family members give voice to issues, understand each other and how the issue affects them as a unit, and develop resolution plans. It is usually conducted by a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT) specializing in family therapy.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – is an extremely effective therapy for a wide range of psychiatric disorders, including depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse. It helps patients challenge irrational thoughts based on emotional beliefs and replace them with positive and constructive thoughts and behaviors to improve their quality of life.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – uses “acceptance” and “transformation” as treatment strategies. A counselor accepts you as you are while recognizing the need for change for you to recover, progress, and achieve your personal goals. It teaches individuals to live in the present, build healthy stress coping mechanisms, control their emotions, and improve interpersonal relationships.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT) – focuses on your interpersonal relationships and social interactions, including the amount of support you receive from others and the effect these interactions have on your mental health. This therapy aims to improve your interpersonal communication and address issues that contribute to your depression.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – is a type of therapy that can aid in the healing process after distressing or traumatic events. EMDR employs bilateral brain activity to “store” and process traumatic memories in a safe environment. EMDR breaks down the mental block that keeps patients in fight or flight mode.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment provides comprehensive mental health care for individuals grappling with a substance use disorder and a chronic mental health condition. Also referred to as a co-occurring disorder, this condition can include:
- A mental health disorder that leads to or is associated with problematic alcohol or drug use.
- A substance use disorder that leads to or is associated with a mental health condition.
- A substance use disorder that worsens or alters the course of a person’s mental health condition.
Substance use disorders and mental health disorders frequently coexist and aggravate each other’s symptoms. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), both conditions require an integrated assessment and treatment approach in mental health and addiction services to improve long-term wellness and reduce the risk of relapse.
Medications are frequently used in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat various mental health disorders. Although psychiatric medications do not cure mental illnesses, they frequently improve and help manage symptoms significantly.
Some of the most commonly utilized medications in mental health treatment include:
- Antidepressants – These medications are generally used to treat a major depressive disorder and other health conditions, such as anxiety and insomnia. The primary goal of antidepressant medication is to alleviate and prevent the symptoms of severe depression, such as feeling down and tired. They are designed to help you regain emotional stability and return to your normal daily routine.
- Anti-anxiety medications – can help patients with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic attacks reduce and manage their symptoms. Anti-anxiety medications are only intended for short-term use, as long-term use can lead to addiction and dependence.
- Mood stabilizers – are commonly prescribed for people with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. Mood stabilizers help stabilize mood and prevent mood swings, mania, and depression.
- Antipsychotic medications – alter brain chemistry to reduce psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and help prevent those symptoms from returning.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies are utilized in addition to traditional forms of treatment such as psychotherapy and medications to treat mental health conditions. Some of the most common types of complementary treatment include:
- Yoga therapy – helps promote mental and physical wellness through a series of movements and breathing exercises. Modern yoga therapy covers a wide range of therapeutic modalities by incorporating physical therapy with elements of psychotherapy.
- Meditation therapy – helps relieve stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. Meditation techniques range from mindfulness-based meditation to simple breathing exercises.
- Equine therapy – comprises a spectrum of treatments involving activities with horses and other equines to improve a patient’s physical and mental wellness. This form of therapy helps ease symptoms of many mental health conditions, such as autism, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Nutritional therapy – restores your body’s nutritional balance, which can help with stress, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, and autoimmune diseases. Getting the proper nutrients for the mind and body can significantly impact how we think and feel. This is especially true for those struggling with their mental health conditions.
- Physical therapy – focuses on improving patients’ health, increasing immunity, and giving them more control over their lives. It accomplishes this by encouraging functional movement, movement awareness, physical activity, such as exercise, and bringing together a person’s physical and mental aspects.
- Mindfulness therapy – is an increasingly popular therapeutic approach that helps you focus on being aware of your surroundings and what you sense and feel without negative interpretation and judgment. Mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to help relax the mind and body and relieve stress.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorder, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you.
Futures Recovery Healthcare has a dedicated mental health treatment program and substance abuse treatment program that can assist you in receiving the care you need. Patients can receive comprehensive care for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and other related conditions through our multidisciplinary team approach, which includes clinical, psychiatric, medication, medical, and wellness interventions and support. To learn more about our mental health care services, contact us online or call 866-804-2098.