What is a Voluntary Psychiatric Hold?

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voluntary psychiatric hold

When a mental health condition becomes urgent, you can admit yourself for a psychiatric hold.

Sometimes a person who struggles with a mental health disorder on a daily basis will find their symptoms worsen. A mental health issue becomes a crisis when the person’s condition escalates, becoming a danger to themselves or others. The signs of decline may arise quickly or over a span of weeks. When it becomes clear that the person cannot manage even basic tasks, they should admit to a mental health facility.

A voluntary psych hold is one in which the person needing help agrees to enter the hospital or treatment program. They decide to be admitted of their own accord. This is different from an involuntary 5150 psych hold, during which the person will be admitted against their will.

About a Voluntary Psychiatric Hold

When someone’s mental health status has worsened to the degree that they are at risk they will need more focused care and treatment. This occurs when the person is impaired, feels out of control, suffers from psychosis, or threatens suicide.

Before someone can enter a facility by their own wishes they must be assessed. There are certain criteria that must be met before the person is admitted on a voluntary basis. These include:

  • It is determined that outpatient treatment is not a high enough level of care.
  • The person requires inpatient treatment under the care of a psychiatrist.
  • The person has a confirmed mental health disorder.
  • The inpatient services will improve the level of functioning or prevent further decline.
  • The person meets the legal criteria for involuntary care but agrees to be hospitalized.

Someone who enters a treatment program of their own will likely spend 10 days to two weeks in the mental health center.

Signs of a Psychiatric Crisis

It can be quite scary to suffer a severe mental health breakdown. It can be so severe that the person is left unable to perform even the most basic daily tasks. Loved ones become alarmed seeing the person struggle with their mental functioning. Worse yet, is when there is the real risk of a suicide attempt.

Some of the warning signs of a mental health crisis include:

  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Isolating
  • Extreme mood swings.
  • Confused speech.
  • Inappropriate behavior.
  • Changes in personality.
  • Angry outbursts or violent acts.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Problem with concentrating.
  • Strange body postures or movements.
  • Ignores personal hygiene.
  • Problems keeping up at work.
  • Loss of interest in life.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Patients that do well with a voluntary mental health hold will step down to a lower level of care once they have become stable. This might involve a day program or other outpatient treatment program.

Is it Better To Admit Yourself versus an Involuntary Psych Hold?

Some might fear having a loved one enter a mental health treatment center. They may believe that their loved one will never be allowed to leave once they are admitted. But in most cases, the person who entered the center by their own choice will also be free to leave.

There are other things that make the voluntary admission a better option. The patient tends to be more engaged and cooperative when they sought help out on their own. They have a better connection with the mental health providers who are caring for them as well. Also, it helps that the family did not wait until the loved one was at a razor’s edge before seeking help. The patient who went in for treatment on his or her own is likely to be discharged sooner.

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What Happens During a Voluntary Mental Health Hold?

When someone requests mental health care for an emergency event they will first have to be assessed. Yes, they are fully aware of their worsening mental status and are asking for help. Before anyone can help them, though, there must be a diagnosis.

At the facility, the admissions staff and clinicians will review their current symptoms in detail. Questions will be asked about their mental health history. Medications will be assessed. Then using all this data, along with the guidance of the DSM-5, the staff will arrive at a diagnosis.

The first priority is to stabilize the patient. Many times, when the person shows up at the mental health ward they will be in a crisis state. Once admitted the mental health staff will go about getting them into a calm, relaxed state. This is done through the use of meds.

During the patient’s stay they will meet with a psychiatrist daily. They will engage in therapy sessions and have their meds adjusted. Once the patient is stable, the team will discuss a treatment plan for them moving forward. Sometimes this involves a longer stay at the mental hospital, and sometimes it means stepping down to residential or outpatient treatment.

Next Steps After Discharge

Patients will be assigned a case manager. This person is in charge of pulling together the services that the patient will need upon discharge. These other service providers will be chosen based on the patient’s unique needs.

In some cases, transitional housing provides a good step down solution. These homes provide transport to and from the therapy sessions, doctor visits, and social services. Other patients are transferred into a residential mental health program for an extended stay. These programs offer 24/7 monitoring and intensive treatment.

Patients who were able to make a great deal of progress during the voluntary hold may be suited for an outpatient or PHP program. These allow more freedom, so the patient is able to return home to their family. Treatment sessions are offered 3-5 days a week at an outpatient center.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, do not wait until it becomes severe. When things get that serious you will be placed on an involuntary hold. Instead, get the help you need before things escalate to that point.

Mental Health Hope Leading Resource for Mental Health Guidance

Mental Health Hope provides helpful information and guidance for families who have a loved one in crisis. The team at Mental Health Hope can assist you with finding a high quality residential mental health programs or retreat. If you or a loved one is in crisis, reach out to Mental Health Hope today at (877) 967-9274.

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