Treatment for conditions such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders is complex. The needs of adults with these mental health disorders are highly individualized. In order to recover and to thrive, people need sustained support from highly trained, compassionate, psychiatric professionals. At ARTA, we believe in the proven effectiveness of residential treatment programs for adults with mental illness.
Why Residential Treatment Programs Are So Effective for People with Mental Illness
While varying in style, residential psychiatric facilities share the following core characteristics, each of which promotes improved, and sustained, mental health:
- Respect for the Individual
In residential treatment programs, each resident is seen as a unique individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. Residents are accepted and appreciated for who they are, rather than being viewed as a “case” or a “patient.”
- Individualized Therapeutic Treatment Goals
All treatment is targeted to the unique mental health, social, and physical needs of the resident. A major goal of all residential facilities is to develop a wide range of habits of self-care, from personal hygiene and taking psychiatric medication to resting and asking for help.
- Supportive Structures and Routines
To recover from a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, or anxiety disorder, residents need a structure that provides consistent support. Residential treatment centers have professional caregivers to provide that support and to help adults with mental illness establish normal, stabilizing routines for day and night.
- Personal Responsibility
As a member of a residential mental health community, residents learn to take responsibility for their own behavior and how it affects others. And they learn to respect the needs of other community members as well.
- Contribution to the Community
Residents build self-esteem and learn new social skills by contributing in some way to the residential community and/or to the community outside the residence. This might include working or volunteering with businesses and community organizations.
- Peer-to-Peer Support
In residential treatment, people share space with peers who are experiencing similar challenges while also working toward recovery. Supportive relationships formed in a residential mental health facility often carry over into the community at large.
- Higher Quality of Life
Meaningful activity, the development of nurturing relationships, the acquisition of new work and self-care skills, and the homelike atmosphere of the residential treatment community provide residents with a higher quality of life than they would experience in alternative mental health settings.
Taken together and working synergistically, these characteristics create a powerful therapeutic community – a healing environment that exists only in a residential setting.
Why Inpatient Psychiatric Care in a Hospital Setting So Often Falls Short
Often, the alternative to residential psychiatric care is a hospital stay. While hospitals can effectively manage the acute mental health crisis that triggers the admission, this kind of institutionalized care fails to provide the long-term care that a mentally ill person needs to recover. Here’s why hospitals often fall short:
- A Lack of Structure
In order to recover and lead independent lives, adults with mental illness need structure. Without a well-developed and structurally sound residential treatment program, mentally ill people may fail to take their medication, obtain adequate nutrition, perform effective self-care, and engage in beneficial social relationships. Without sustained structure, acute mental illness can quickly return.
- Insufficient or Inconvenient Outpatient Services
After discharge from the hospital, people with mental health issues often fail to take advantage of outpatient psychiatric services. They tend to withdraw from care over time. In many cases, simple transportation and scheduling issues make sustained outpatient treatment a poor option for someone with mental illness.
- Social Isolation
Once discharged, a person with a psychiatric disorder typically returns to an isolated lifestyle, either at home, in the community, or on the street. While social isolation may feel comfortable and familiar, it is a negative force that not only impedes a person’s growth toward mental health, but often sends them sliding backwards.
- Family Stress
When outpatient mental health services can’t fill the gap, the burden of care, including medication and self-care management, often falls on the family. Old wounds are reopened, and new stresses are added as the family does its best in an unmanageable situation.
- Functional Deterioration
In this isolated and almost treatment-free state, a person with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, clinical depression, or other mental health condition often deteriorates. The stage is now set for another inpatient hospitalization.
This unproductive cycle has a cost in dollars. More importantly, a person who could recover from mental illness, live a richer life, and contribute to society, is locked in a cycle of psychological trauma and pain.
Residential care can break this unproductive cycle, offering proven psychiatric rehabilitation resources that help people with mental illness to recover and live fulfilling lives.
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