Many people don’t seek the help they need when they’re struggling with depression, anxiety, trouble controlling their anger or going through a rough patch in life and need to talk to someone with a different perspective. And mostly people don’t seek help because they don’t want to seem “crazy”. The kind they show in movies of people hearing voices and seeing things.
The truth is that there are different treatment levels when it comes to mental health. Each level falls into two bigger levels; outpatient and inpatient. Outpatient is when you go to the therapy during the day, then go home. Inpatient means they have to stay in the treatment center for however long is recommended.
After a full evaluation, a licensed professional will recommend the level that would be best beneficial. Someone could start at a lower level and if symptoms don’t improve or get worse, they may need a higher level. Someone could start at a higher level, and as symptoms improve, they’ll go to a lower level. And sometimes symptoms are so severe, that a person could be forced into a higher level. Here are the different treatment levels in mental health from lowest to highest. The higher the level, the more severe the symptoms are.
Community Based Programs
These are usually free or very low cost support groups such as Grief groups and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) groups. It offers support and strategies for a successful recovery.
Routine Outpatient Care (ROC)
- Individual, Family, or Couples Counseling, once a week, 45-60 minute sessions.
- Medication Management through a Psychiatrist or Nurse Practitioner.
- Group Therapy once a week, once a month, or a few times a month.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- May include group, individual, and family therapy, more than 45-60 minute sessions.
- Consists of frequent visits (usually 3-5 days per week) and an average of 3-4 hours of treatment per week for a set period of time (often 4-6 weeks, depending on the program)
- Many programs are structured so individuals may work and continue with normal daily routines .
Partial Hospitalization (Partial Program)
- Consists of frequent visits (usually 3-5 days per week) and an average of 3-4 hours of treatment daily for a set period of time (often 4-6 weeks, depending on the program)
- Clients are referred to a partial program when symptoms are not improving or getting worse. The goal is to prevent the client from going into inpatient hospitalization. Or when a client is discharged from inpatient hospitalization, they may be referred to a “step down” partial program.
- Many programs are structured so individuals may work and continue with normal daily routines since you attend this program during the day, then go home.
Inpatient Acute Care
- This is where a person stays in the hospital because they need 24-hour care and daily doctor visits to stabilize psychiatric issues.
- Recommended for people who aren’t able to care for themselves, or may be a risk to the safety and well-being of themselves or others. Such as someone who is having active suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide.
- The stay can last for a few days until the person is stabilized.
- People will attend group therapy and have meetings with a team of professionals, including a psychiatrist.
- A family therapy session is important before discharge to discuss aftercare plans.
- At this level, all available and appropriate outpatient approaches, including intensive outpatient treatment and partial, have been tried first.
- This level is supposed to be a short-term placement to stabilize the person until they can return home.
- Primary treatment offered is group, individual, and family therapy in a supportive environment .
- Should include weekly family therapy when possible.
- This is the highest level of care and the one we usually see in movies. When people say “I’m not seeing a therapist, I”m not crazy”, they mostly think of this level.
- Psychiatric hospitals specialize in treating serious mental health disorders, such as Schizophrenia, and severe forms of clinical depression.
- There are different types of psychiatric hospitals. Some are for short-term stay and focus on people who are low-risk. Others are permanent residency where someone is unable to live on their own due to their mental health illness.
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About the author.
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.