What Is The Average Length Of Stay For Inpatient Mental Health Care?

Length of inpatient stay for serious mental health disorders is around 10-14 days in the American health system, though this can vary depending on a patient’s condition, response to treatment, insurance, and personal preference.

Health professionals serving in inpatient settings provide intensive care and support for adults and adolescents who are experiencing severe mental health crises or grappling with some other serious mental illness. Commonly treated psychiatric disorders include:

What Is The Average Length Of Stay For Inpatient Mental Health Care?

Once admitted to a psychiatric inpatient program, the average length of a person’s stay depends on what condition is being treated, its severity, and other conditions (like insurance limitations). 

Across a number of sources, the average length of stay for inpatient psychiatric care is around 10-14 days total, with many people staying for shorter or longer periods of time as needed.

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Settings For Inpatient Mental Health Treatment

Inpatient treatment for serious mental health issues is provided in different settings. The most common treatment settings offering a high quality of care for serious mental illnesses include:

  • psychiatric hospitals
  • psychiatric wards located in certain private or state hospitals
  • residential mental health treatment centers

Mental health treatment services are also commonly offered in outpatient settings, and outpatient referrals are typical once a person’s condition has been stabilized.

Inpatient Treatment Misconceptions

Unfortunately, in the same way that those with mental illnesses are often stigmatized, mental health treatment services are also mischaracterized and may be viewed with fear or negativity by those most in need of help.

These misconceptions may include:

Cruel Imprisonment

The view that inpatient hospitalization is a form of cruel or sterile imprisonment or punishment, when in fact it is designed to provide a safe, supportive, and comfortable environment for those who need special care.

Dangerous Patients

Another misconception is that those who receive inpatient care are dangerous and violent individuals who should be locked away. However, the vast majority are no danger to others at all and are much more likely to be the victims of violence themselves.

Forced To Take Medication Or Receive Invasive Treatments

Lastly, a false view includes that those admitted to inpatient care will be forced to take medication or participate in invasive treatments like shock therapy against their will. 

In fact, patients must be made fully aware of their medication’s side effects and risks and must choose to take it voluntarily. 

The same goes for all other forms of treatment, with the only exception covering certain cases in which a physician determines that a certain treatment is required to prevent one from harming oneself or others, or if one’s life is in danger.

Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Services

Ultimately, the goal of any short-term stabilization or inpatient care is to stabilize the patient’s condition, reduce the risk of serious or life-threatening events, and prepare them to transition into less-intensive and less-restrictive follow-up services.

The specific services provided in inpatient mental health treatment programs vary by program, facility, and patient need. Common examples include:

  • psychiatric evaluation, an assessment of the patient’s mental health and physical condition that informs the development of their personalized treatment plan
  • medication management, the prescription and monitoring of appropriate mental health medications and dosages for the patient’s condition or conditions
  • individual and group therapy, in which a therapist or counselor leads the patient or patients through psychotherapy sessions to process various emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that may underlay a patient’s mental health problems
  • occupational therapy, providing assessment and intervention to help patients improve their daily functioning and independence with the help of a professional occupational therapist
  • family therapy and support, which brings a patient’s family members into treatment to address any harmful interpersonal issues and equip participants to help support their loved one in the future
  • psychoeducation, a service that provides helpful information and education sessions covering mental health conditions, the treatment and recovery process, and other key topics
  • alternative or expressive therapies, which can incorporate cooking, exercise, yoga, art, music, writing, drama, and more to help patients explore their feelings, communicate needs, and develop new skills, confidence, and coping mechanisms
  • recreational activities, to help improve patients’ mood and mental state as they rest, and relax in the company of others

Dual Diagnosis Treatment (Substance Abuse Treatment)

Those who struggle with serious mental disorders may turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication. Or, a person’s chronic abuse of drugs or alcohol may, over time, provoke the development of a mood disorder or some other serious psychological issue.

In either case, dual diagnosis treatment programs are available to provide effective, evidence-based, simultaneous treatment for both substance use disorders and other co-occurring mental health disorders.

Once diagnosed, interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication-assisted treatment (MAT), peer support, and more can help improve both conditions. 

Ideally, this may lead to a profound and lasting improvement in a person’s overall mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral health that wouldn’t be possible if treatment was only provided for one disorder or the other.

If you or a loved one needs expert treatment for a substance use disorder, major psychiatric problem, or both conditions, please consider reaching out to our team.

At Ohio Recovery Center, we provide expert stabilization and inpatient care for all forms of substance abuse, major mental illnesses, and dual diagnoses. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions
  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Treatment-Settings
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/mental-health/myths-and-facts

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: February 16, 2024

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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