Most Common Fears of Being Hospitalized for a Mental Illness

Most common fears about mental health hospitalization

No one knows you like you know yourself. When you’re struggling, sometimes your friends notice and intervene to suggest you need help. Other times, you cover up your struggles so well that only you know you need help. If you think you are in danger and can benefit from hospitalization, it’s important to seek professional help immediately. Of course, many people have a long list of fears in recovery about what can come with hospitalization.

Hollywood has given us a perception of what could happen if we go to a mental hospital, such as losing our rights, being put in a straitjacket, being medicated against our will and more. However, the true experience is very unlike these scenarios.

Keep reading as we break down the six most common fears people have about being hospitalized for a mental illness and whether they’re true or not.

1. Being Overmedicated

One fear many people have when seeking help for mental illness is that doctors will want to medicate the problem away. Medication can be part of your treatment plan, but your doctors will never try to overmedicate you. The trope in Hollywood is that someone has a minor problem and is put on so much prescription medication they become like a zombie. This isn’t exactly how things work.

It’s important to understand that medication can be very helpful and effective in treating the symptoms that arise from many mental illnesses. For example, people who suffer from depression may want to try antidepressants. However, doctors know that each patient will respond to medication differently. So it takes time to find the right brand of medication, and the correct dose, for each patient.

If you were ever to feel overmedicated and that the side effects were negatively impacting you, the next step would be to work with your doctor to adjust your medication to serve you better. The proper medication should diminish or remove negative symptoms of your mental illness without causing additional adverse side effects.

Lastly, patients don’t have to take medication if they don’t want to. Your doctor may suggest medication and outline its benefits, but it’s up to you whether you accept it.

2. Losing Your Rights

If you voluntarily hospitalize yourself for mental health treatment, you can leave anytime. You keep your rights inside and outside the treatment facility. Even prisoners have rights, so why would it be any different for patients seeking help from professional, caring medical staff?

In fact, your rights actually protect you during hospitalization. See below to understand how you’re protected from job termination when seeking treatment.

3. Losing Your Kids

For most people, high on the list of fears in recovery is that they’ll lose their children. This one is tricky in certain situations. If you’re going through a divorce or custody hearing, your partner may try to use your addiction or mental illness against you. Generally speaking, you aren’t often punished for responsibly seeking help for yourself and showing improvement.

4. Being Locked Up

Another typical scene in movies and TV is the person being tricked into going to rehab or a hospital, where they’re forced to stay against their will. We’re here to clear that up and verify that the majority of patients at a treatment facility are there by their own free choice.

Still, involuntary hospitalization does exist. Each state determines its own regulations around involuntary hospitalization, but overall the parameters are quite strict. Involuntary hospitalizations are typically limited to situations where a person is an imminent danger to themselves or others or is highly likely to become so. Even in these situations, state laws restrict involuntary hospitalization to a few days unless a court orders a more extended stay. An additional court order is required for doctors to treat involuntarily hospitalized patients against their will.

5. Losing Your Job

Remember earlier we mentioned that you have rights? Well, your rights certainly apply when it comes to your employer. One of the top fears of seeking addiction treatment is that you’ll lose your source of income while trying to get help.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees from termination if they miss work to attend rehab. The U.S. Department of Labor allows individuals to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid work to address health concerns without fear of losing their job. Mental health disorders, including substance abuse disorder, are protected by the FMLA. This 12-week allotment is per calendar year, so employees are covered if they relapse.

The FMLA applies to all public agencies and businesses with over 50 employees.

And, luckily, you don’t have to figure out all the process on your own. At Restore Mental Health, we can walk you through how to use a leave of absence for medical issues.

6. Being Put in a Straitjacket

Lastly, out of all the fears of addiction care, the straitjacket concern is probably the most common. Straitjackets were mostly discontinued for use in treatment centers a long time ago, as they weren’t very effective in keeping the patient from harming themselves or others.

When you seek treatment for your mental illness, don’t picture a scene from a horror movie. No one is going to bind and torture you in any way. You came for help, and that’s what you’ll receive. Your treatment will focus on therapy, with the potential of medication if you agree to it.

Instead of thinking of your hospitalization as a punishment, view it as a partnership. You’re working with a team of mental health experts to get you back to living a happy, healthy and balanced life.

Letting Go of Your List of Fears in Recovery & Seeking Help

Take the time to evaluate your situation and ask yourself whether you want it to improve. It takes a strong person to seek help when they need it. Hopefully, we’ve reassured you that all those fears you have about seeking help are based on bad movies.

Mental illnesses are treatable. So if you feel you’re losing the battle with your condition, get the help you need. A short hospitalization can be the very thing to help you get back to feeling like your usual old self.

Restore Mental Health Offers Inpatient Care

Don’t live in fear of your condition or in fear of getting help. Restore Mental Health treats a wide variety of mental health conditions with inpatient and outpatient programs. Often, staying in a new, calming environment can be the key to turning things around. Find out how we can help by calling today.