When to Consider Going Inpatient

If you’re able, speak with your care team about their recommendations regarding going inpatient.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you should consider hospitalization:


  • Have thoughts of hurting yourself or others 
  • Are seeing or hearing things (hallucinations)
  • Have bizarre or paranoid ideas (delusions)
  • Are so revved up or impulsive that you are doing dangerous or harmful things
  • Feel too exhausted or depressed to get out of bed or take care of yourself or your family
  • Can’t stop using alcohol or other substances in harmful ways
  • Have not eaten or slept for several days,
  • Have tried outpatient treatment (therapy, medication and support) and still have symptoms that significantly interfere with your life.
How Hospitalization Can Help
  • Hospitalization creates a safe place to allow severe symptoms to pass and medication to be adjusted and stabilized. It is not punishment and it is nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Only those you wish to tell need to know about your hospitalization. This is your health information and not everyone has the right to know about it.
  • You can work with professionals to stabilize your severe symptoms, keep yourself safe and learn new ways to cope with your illness.
  • You can safely stop using alcohol or other substances.
  • You might find a new treatment or combination of treatments that helps you more. 
  • You can get connected to outside mental health services upon discharge. 
  • You can connect with others who are also struggling.
How to Get Admitted

1.If you need immediate help (i.e. are in imminent danger of hurting yourself)

2. If you are not in imminent danger, consider contacting:

    • Your mental health team, who may be able to facilitate a hospital admission without going to the emergency room.
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (or visit this website if you are located out of the US, or want a hotline more tailored to your needs (i.e. for LGBTQIA+ individuals, Veterans, etc.)
    • The Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
      • Both national emergency lines can support you in coming up with next steps and getting in contact with emergency personnel.
What to Expect During a Psychiatric Hospitalization
  • You will likely be on a locked unit, but may be allowed to leave the unit with supervision if your treatment team gives the “OK”
  • There are therapeutic groups throughout the day that you will be highly encouraged to attend.
  • You likely will not receive individual psychotherapy with a therapist, though some hospitals have this option.
  • Your care team will often consist of a psychiatrist, a case worker to assist with discharge planning, and a nurse.
  • There is no general rule about how long you should stay in the hospital. You may stay a few days or as long as a few weeks, depending on your specific situation.
  • You may have jewelry, personal care items, belts, shoelaces or other personal belongings locked away during your stay. You also may not be allowed to have items with glass or sharp edges, such as picture frames, spiral notebooks, paperclips, etc.
What to Bring to the Hospital

It may be difficult to gather all the necessary clothing/toiletries etc. prior to going to the hospital for an inpatient admission. The following list is meant to assist supporters in helping you with getting everything you need after being admitted. If you do have time prior to admission, you may also use this list as a general packing list, though you may want to check with your particular inpatient institution first.

*Click on the link to enlarge


Click here for a printable version.

Your Rights While Inpatient

– Voluntary Hospitalization is when a person willingly signs forms to be treated in the hospital. A person who is admitted voluntarily may also ask to leave at their discretion. Rules about how quickly the hospital must release you vary from state to state.

– Involuntary Hospitalization occurs when symptoms have become so severe that the person is incapacitated or might be a danger to themselves or others. Rules about involuntary hospitalization vary from state to state. In most cases, you cannot be held longer than a few days without a court hearing.


Your Rights:

  • You have the right to have your treatment explained to you, to be informed of the benefits and risks of your treatment, and to refuse treatment that you feel is unsafe.
  • You have the right to be informed about any tests/exams you are given and to refuse any procedures you feel are unnecessary.
  • You have the right to refuse to be part of experimental treatments or training that involves students or observers.
  • In most states, patients have the rights to fresh air breaks, visitors, receiving mail, and practicing their religion, among other rights. Make sure you read through what your rights are as an inpatient, or ask hospital staff.
  • You have the right the file a complaint if you believe you are being mistreated. You might want to request to speak with the Patient Rights Advocate, if your institution has one.