A breakdown in mental health can be terrifying, both for the individual experiencing it as well as loved ones. Some disorders don't present until a person is well into their teens or even adulthood, which can be disorienting for all involved. Fortunately, help is available and can be very effective. Mental illness is treatable.
A mental health treatment center is a facility to help people receive treatment for mental health issues, including emotional and psychological disorders. Mental health treatment centers can be publicly-run (by the government) or they can be private institutions.
What do mental health treatment centers treat?
In any given year, an estimated 26.2% of those 18 and older (or one in every four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in the United States alone.
Mental health disorders come in range of forms, and can only truly be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Mental health treatment centers cover all manner of emotional and psychological disorders, including:
- Anxiety Disorders
- ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (including what was formerly known as Asperger's)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder)
- Eating Disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
- Panic Disorder
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Phobias
- and more
Most mental health disorders and other emotional and psychological issues are treated with a combination of therapy and prescription medications, including antidepressants and antianxiety medications. With help, some of those suffering from mental health disorders can see real improvement in just a few weeks.
How does a mental health treatment center work?
Some mental health treatment centers are public, meaning run by the government or community to which they belong. Others are private facilities. Staff associated with mental health treatment centers include a range of professionals, including social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and case workers.
Public mental health treatment centers
Public mental health treatment centers often come in the form of community or county mental health centers. These institutions offer public mental health care services when someone is unable to receive treatment from a private therapist or physician, and to meet the needs of those whose mental health issue seriously impacts their everyday life. Services included at such institutions include:
- Case management
- Outpatient services
- Medication management
- In-depth community treatment services
Many mental health centers also have emergency walk-in services and mobile crisis units staffed by clinicians trained at evaluating mental health conditions in the field. Both services exist to de-escalate situations as quickly as possible, stabilize the person in question, and decide on the appropriate next course of action.
Private mental health treatment centers offer many of the same treatment options, but are privately run.
How do you pay for a mental health treatment center?
Many of those who receive services from a community or county mental health treatment center use Medicaid to pay for treatment, or rely on Social Security disability benefits.
The Affordable Care Act also ensures that a number of health plans are required to cover benefits that include mental health treatment as well as treatment for substance abuse (these often go together). Thus insurance can often cover some or a substantial amount of mental health treatment, depending on the insurance and facility.
What happens at a mental health treatment center?
Some mental health treatment centers are residential (aka inpatient), meaning patients live on-site and all needs are taken care of. Room, board, medications, therapy, and other forms of treatment are included. Others are outpatient facilities, where a patient continues to live at home while receiving mental health treatment.
Residential mental health treatment centers have a number of advantages. For those suffering from severe mental illness, residential facilities have 24/7 care available, meaning they can monitor and treat patients at any time, handling symptoms much more quickly than outpatient treatment.
For those going through the initial diagnosis phase, residential treatment also allows for the array of testing required for an accurate diagnosis. In addition, patients who require assistance when it comes to properly balancing drug regimes, close monitoring can help determine correct dosage levels as well as handle negative reactions in short order.
Finally, if a patient is experiencing an acute episode of serious mental illness, hospital staff can both assess and help them recover better if they are in residence. This can help both the patient and their family manage better (i.e. the family can allow trained professionals to take over rather than trying to handle it on their own).
What is treatment like at a mental health treatment center?
Both residential and outpatient mental health treatment centers normally offer a combination of both therapy and medication to help stabilize and heal.
The basis of much mental health therapy is cognitive behavioral therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). In addition to these, mental health therapeutic treatments can include:
- Psychoeducation: This involves educating both the patient as well as family members on strategies to help cope and live with mental illness
- Support groups: These are meetings of people in similar situations who support one another and help each member work on their mental health issues in a safe and supportive setting
- ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy): This is normally reserved for those suffering from a severe mental illness. It involves controlled electric shocks to a person's brain, with the goal of activating neurons and stimulating shifts in brain chemistry
- Health & wellness therapy: Nutrition can have a substantial impact on one's health, including mental health. Often used alongside other therapeutic modalities, health & wellness therapy can reinforce the efficacy of other treatments by increasing total body health
Medications also play an important role in a treatment plan for someone with a mental health disorder. For example, a medicine might lessen the effects of depression, making it possible for that patient to then focus on psychotherapy, leading to more profound and lasting change.
Common medications for those recovering from mental health conditions include antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers. Research shows that medicines are often much more effective when combined with therapy.
What happens after leaving a mental health treatment center?
Leaving a mental health treatment center is not the "end" of recovery. For those with mental health disorders, mental stability is an ongoing process. It often involves continuing to attend support groups, as well as sticking with therapy and medication.
Millions of people with mental health conditions who get them treated go on to live long, full, productive, and joyful lives. Treatment alongside a firm desire and commitment to get better lead to just that.