What Is It Like In Psychiatric Hospitals? by David Lee Chu Sarchet

Before I get started on this blog, I would like to say that everyone’s experience in a psychiatric ward will be a little different. So, please keep in mind that I am merely talking from my own experience of being in many different psychiatric wards across the country from my teenage years to adulthood. Every psychiatric hospital will be different, but similar at the same time.

For this blog, I will split this into five sections to describe the experience one will have in any given psychiatric hospital. These five sections are the following: 

  • 1) Intake 
  • 2) Schedule 
  • 3) Group Therapy 
  • 4) Daze Phase 
  • 5) Discharge 

Like I said, every psychiatric ward will be different from one another, while at the same time sharing some similarities. I have had experiences where I have had a lot of fun in certain mental hospitals and the experience was more like being in a summer camp. However, I have had other experiences where I felt like I was inside of a prison and the experience was miserable too.

I will now elaborate on these five points. 


The first thing that has to happen in order to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital is you will need to be evaluated. This entails going to either a mental health crisis center or to the local emergency room. At these places there will be a clinical psychiatrist who will meet with you for an evaluation. If you came willingly then the experience will not be so bad, but if you were brought by the police or someone in authority then your experience might not be so pleasant. Regardless, if the clinical psychiatrist deems that you need to be admitted, then the next step is you have to wait until a bed opens up in the hospital so that you can be transferred. 


Everything that happens in the psychiatric hospital happens like clockwork from the time you are scheduled to wake up to the time you are scheduled to go to bed. All the meals and distribution of medications happen at set times throughout the day and in between meals you have group therapy. 

Group Therapy 

The type of therapy you will receive in these groups will vary from hospital to hospital. Some hospitals teach Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and other hospitals teach Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Regardless of what type of therapy that the hospital teaches, group participation is mandatory. If you do not attend groups, and participate, then your doctor will not discharge you. Your participation in the groups will be the evidence the doctors will look for when determining whether to discharge you or not. 

Daze Phase

Whenever you are in the hospital, the first three days seem to go by quickly. However, around the fourth day everything seems to go by really slow. You think the reason why everything slows down is because around this time you feel like  you are now in a daze and just going through the motions. You feel stuck in the facility with no way out and you also wonder if you will ever get discharged. It becomes harder to participate in group therapy. 


As soon as the doctor tells you that I have a discharge date, everything begins to lighten up again. You will find that it is easier to participate in group therapy because your overall mood is more cheerful. On the day of your discharge, you may feel a lot of anxiety because you partially excited to go home, but you are also very much afraid of relapsing into old behavior patterns that landed you in the hospital in the first place. Once you are home, it may take you awhile to acclimate back into society because everything will feel surreal. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope that this helps you have a better understanding of what it is like in psychiatric hospitals. May the grace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ richly bless you all! 

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