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difference between a psych ward vs a mental hospital

Difference Between a Psych Ward vs a Mental Hospital

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When you’re exploring mental health treatment options for someone that you care about, it’s common to encounter terms you’re not familiar with or words that are used in a different manner than you’re used to. Understanding the terminology – such as learning the difference between a psych ward vs. a mental hospital – can be an important step in your efforts to find the right type of treatment for your loved one.

What is a Psych Ward?

Though many people use the two terms interchangeably, there are some important differences between a psych ward vs. a mental hospital. To fully appreciate these distinctions, let’s begin by discussing what a psych ward is.

Psych wards are usually subsections of larger facilities. For example, a hospital may have a unit, or ward, that is dedicated to people who have been experiencing mental health crises. 

In most cases, these wards are designed to provide short-term services that can help a person achieve the level of stabilization that will allow them to return home, step down to a lower level of care, or transition to a center where they can receive extended services.

Some psych wards may also be able to accept patients who are being admitted involuntarily by court order. Such cases typically involve people who have been deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. 

What’s the Difference Between a Psych Ward vs a Mental Hospital?

There are several differences between a psych ward vs. a mental hospital. Here are two of the most significant distinctions:

  • Time in treatment: As we noted in the previous section, most psych wards offer short-term programming that focuses on stabilization and crisis management. Mental hospitals typically offer more flexible length-of-stay options to meet the needs of patients who are at various points in their journeys toward improved health.
  • Scope of services: Given the short-term, stabilization-focused approaches of most psych wards, patients aren’t likely to receive a broad scope of services. In a mental health hospital, they can participate in a wider range of therapies, so that they can get to the root of their psychiatric challenges and learn to take greater control of their thoughts and actions.

How to Choose Between a Psych Ward vs a Mental Hospital

If you’re trying to choose between a psych ward vs. a mental hospital for someone in your family, here are a few things to consider:

  • Does your loved one need intensive, short-term treatment to address a current mental health crisis?
  • Does your loved one need 24/7 supervision and round-the-clock care?
  • What types of treatment has your loved one previously received – and how did they respond to that care?
  • Would your loved one benefit from extended time in treatment?
  • Does your loved one have access to transportation and are they stable enough to participate in an outpatient program?
  • Is your loved one willing to enter treatment, or will you be attempting to admit them on an involuntary basis?
  • What type of treatment will your insurance cover?

Remember: Your goal should always be to find the center that can best address the full scope of your loved one’s mental health needs. Take the time to understand your options, and speak with representatives from any facilities that you are considering, before making your decision.

Benefits of a Mental Health Treatment Center

We alluded to some of the benefits of a mental health treatment center earlier in this post while discussing the differences between a psych ward vs. a mental health hospital. 

In this section, we want to shine a light directly on a few of the important reasons why a mental health hospital (or a mental health treatment center) may be the ideal choice for someone who has been struggling with various psychiatric conditions:

  • Flexible length of stay: Most mental health hospitals offer considerable flexibility regarding how a long a person can remain in treatment. Ideally, length-of-stay decisions should be made solely on the basis of what’s best for the patient. This gives the treatment appropriate time to address the full scope of the patient’s needs and prepare them to achieve their goals.
  • Continuum of care: Many mental health treatment centers offer both residential and outpatient options. This allows them to provide the level of care that best meets each patient’s specific needs. It also gives patients the opportunity to complete residential care, then step down to an outpatient program for additional support.
  • Personalized planning: Personalization is the key to effective mental health treatment. There are no types or courses of treatment that work for everyone. Most reputable mental health treatment centers understand this, and will develop individualized plans that are based on each patient’s history, needs, and goals.
  • Multiple types of treatment: Mental health treatment centers usually offer a variety of therapies and related support services, so they can select from a range of elements while putting together each patient’s individualized plan. While a patient is in treatment, if they aren’t responding as well as expected to one therapy or service, the center can adjust their plan to ensure they are receiving maximum benefit.  
  • Aftercare support: Over the course of a patient’s time in a mental health hospital, their treatment team will be able to chart their progress and identify areas where they may need additional support. Then, when the patient approaches their discharge date, the facility can provide a thorough plan to connect them with the resources that can help them in the months and years to come.

Contact Our Mental Health Treatment Centers in California and Arizona

Montare Behavioral Health is a trusted provider of customized residential and outpatient programming for adults whose lives have been disrupted by a variety of mental health concerns. 

At our mental health treatment centers in California and Arizona, your loved one will have the opportunity to work in close collaboration with a team of highly skilled professionals. These dedicated caregivers will take the time to get to know your loved one as a unique individual, so that we can be sure we’re providing them with the services and support they need to achieve improved health and a more hopeful future. 

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please fill out our contact form or call us today.