State Hospitals - Continued
Last year, for the first time, I had to be hospitalized. My school insurance ran out after awhile because I couldn't go to school, so I was transferred to a state hospital. I was told I could get more help there because it was more long-term. Unfortunately, I have to agree with your brother. It was a useless, if not traumatic experience. They were so over their census limit that I had to stay in a solitary room with the door open and my things in a cardboard box. A young boy, about age 11, was brought into the adult ward to solitary, kicking and screaming in front of us all during dinner. The main models used in these hospitals are behavioral and medical. They are not mixed well--My illness was drugged to the max while my behavior was rewarded or punished by points, achieved through chores, group attendance (which there were maybe one or two sessions of ANYTHING to do at all). The people who work there are not qualified, the security people are control freaks. I gained 70 pounds in 2 months due to inactivity and high-carbohydrate diet (because carbs are cheap).
I've been on both sides of the doors. Although I never was hospitalized in a State hospital, I worked there as a mental health worker. Where I worked, the patient came first. As workers, we were subjected to more abuse than the patient. And the people I worked with honestly cared about the patients there. There were 3-4 nurses on duty for each unit. There was one mental health worker per 2-3 patients, and there was always a psychiatrist available. Our facility is in the top 5 for all the State hospitals in the country. But, I'd have to do a lot of looking into it before I put a loved one anywhere.
I can tell you what it's like to have been treated at a state facility. (I'll try to be brief). For me, going to the state facility was a godsend -- it marked a huge turning point in my acceptance of my illness and my subsequent recovery. I found private hospitals to be very restrictive and parental in their approach to treatment, whereas at the state hospital it was up to the consumer to take responsibility in their recovery. By this I mean we weren't badgered to take our meds or go to groups -- which meant that we had to WANT to get better and do what was necessary to become well again. Personally, I hadn't yet accepted that I even HAD an illness until I was sent 3 hours away from my family to a state hospital where I had to realize my responsibility in my own recovery and decide to work with the doctors to become well (I was 20 years old at the time). I did see, however, people who were there who were very serious cases, and some may have had less success than I did, but for me, it was a big wake-up call that something was really wrong, and I had to come to terms with it.