• Home
  • What to Look For in a Psychiatric Inpatient Program

What to Look For in a Psychiatric Inpatient Program


Maybe you’ve tried everything: counselors and doctors, various medications, or even alternative remedies such as herbs and supplements. Nothing seems to help you or your loved one feel better. Fear not—there is still hope.

A psychiatric inpatient program is a treatment program where a patient is admitted to a hospital that provides 24/7 care by doctors, nurses, and other professionals who specialize in behavioral health issues. This type of program provides stabilization, monitoring, and treatment in a safe environment. Aftercare treatment is planned for and restructured as necessary to accommodate the goals of the patient, their family, and the patient’s doctor.

People who typically require a psychiatric inpatient program suffer from the following:

  • Depression, especially when accompanied by suicidal thoughts
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia/psychosis
  • Severe anxiety
  • Substance abuse disorders with psychiatric symptoms

Choosing the right mental health facility can be overwhelming. With different insurance requirements, program philosophies, costs, and quality of care, it’s important to make the right decision.

Below you’ll learn what to look for when choosing a psychiatric treatment center.

What Factors are Important when Choosing a Psychiatric Inpatient Hospital?

There are many factors to consider when deciding on a facility. A few of the most important ones are:

  • Reputation
  • Cost
  • Insurance coverage

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

Reputation of the Psychiatric Program

Thanks to the internet, you can quickly find out the reputation of any hospital you’re considering. Do a quick Google search on the name of the facility to find their website. Look at the “About Us” page. Here you should see how long the program has been operating. You’ll be able to read about where it started and whether the facility has expanded within the state, or even the country. The longer their history, the better. It’s a good sign the program is providing quality care and has positive word of mouth with past patients.

Next, see if there are any customer testimonials. This will confirm whether or not the facility has good rapport with patients. There’s nothing better than reviews from real patients and/or their family. You can really get an “inside” look at what it’s like to stay at a facility, just by reading what other people experienced there. And finally, check for reviews from a third party site.

Cost of the Inpatient Program

Does the cost of the program make sense for your financial situation? Compare the prices of a few different programs. Of course, it’s not just cost alone that should be factored in.

Take a look at what each program offers to see whether a higher priced program would give you treatment options and amenities you’d be willing to pay a little extra for. It’s worth paying more for a program that meets all your needs and expectations rather than going with one that leaves you feeling disappointed.

Accepted Insurance Plans

Let’s say you’ve found a psychiatric inpatient program at a facility that has a great reputation. You have insurance. Now the question is: does this facility in particular take your insurance?

Insurance is complicated and sometimes frustrating these days. Even with large providers, coverage may not be available for the program you’d like to use. This is why it’s so important to investigate the costs of different programs, just in case you have to pay out of pocket.

Need an alternative arrangement? Most facilities offer payment plans so you can manage costs without going over budget. Check the program’s website to see if this is something they offer. Then you’ll be one step ahead when you arrive at the hospital for admission.

Types of Psychiatric Treatments Available

Another factor to consider when investigating mental health hospitals is the type of treatments available. Here are a few questions you’ll need answers to:

  • Does the treatment align with the person’s needs? The hospital should offer a variety of different therapies and activities every day. Group and family therapies are important for communication and support for the patient. If the patient is struggling with substance abuse in addition to a mental illness, see if the facility offers a dual diagnosis program. Make sure the facility also provides a variety of therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Patients should learn important coping skills they can use post-treatment to deal with day-to-day problems—and prevent a relapse.
  • Is the length of stay plausible? Though you won’t know for sure how long the stay will be until admission, it’s important to plan ahead. Most programs last anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. If the patient is concerned about losing a job, they may be eligible to take protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Are the rules and standards going to be acceptable? All behavioral health centers have certain rules and standards of behavior. Rules are designed to protect the patient from themselves, and protect other patients. Failure to follow these rules may result in a patient being discharged early. When planning for your or your loved one’s stay, make sure you know what is and what isn’t OK to bring in with you. The hospital’s website should provide this information. You should also check visitation guidelines so you know what to expect when visiting the patient.
  • Is there enough one-on-one involvement between staff and resident? Individualized treatment is just as important as group and family therapy. Patients and their families should have easy access to doctors, nurses, case managers, social workers, and other staff members 24 hours a day.

Health Facility Amenities

During a patient’s stay there’s usually plenty of free time. This gives patients the opportunity to engage in activities that give them joy and also provide opportunities to socialize.

A quality mental health facility will offer amenities such as:

  • Art programs
  • Gardens and walking paths
  • Sports facilities, such as a basketball court
  • A variety of different program themes

You should also consider the location of the facility. It should be convenient for the patient’s family to visit and attend regular family therapy sessions.

Qualifications of the Medical Staff

A psychiatric program is only as good as its medical staff. Read bios of the health facility’s medical staff on their website, if available. If bios aren’t available, call and ask for the names of the physicians on staff. You can then research their credentials online. Look into the staff’s experience, certifications, and any available testimonials. You’ll want to see whether they have experience with the health issue the patient will be treated for. Relevant certifications show the staff member is well-trained in their area of expertise. The more information you can get on the medical staff, the more comfortable you’ll feel about working with them as a patient or family member.

Final Step: Visit the Mental Health Treatment Center

You’ve researched costs, insurance, programs, amenities, and the medical staff. Now it’s time to see the facility and meet the staff in person. Take a tour to see what it’s really like to stay at the hospital.

Here are a few things to consider during the tour:

  • Does the staff seem friendly?
  • Do patients seem to be treated with kindness and warmth?
  • Is the staff involved in day-to-day activities?
  • Are the facilities clean?
  • Is there a chance other patients might be a negative influence on you or your loved one?
  • Do residents seem to get along with each other?

Next Steps

Attending a psychiatric inpatient program is an investment in your or your loved one’s health. This is why it’s critical to develop a set of criteria when investigating your options. Researching costs of different programs, treatment types, amenities, medical staff, and touring the facility will help you make the right decision.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a psychiatric disorder accompanied by substance abuse, then Dallas Behavioral Hospital’s Dual Diagnosis program may be just what you need to get well. Contact us 24/7 at 972-982-0900 for a free and confidential assessment.


Choosing a Drug Treatment Program: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/choosing-a-drug-treatment-program.htm
Choosing a Rehab Center: http://www.wesleyplacerehab.org/articles-resources/top-10-things-to-look-for-when-choosing-an-inpatient-rehab-center.aspx
Guide to Residential Treatment Programs: http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Residential-Treatment-Programs-097.aspx