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What’s It Like to Stay at a Mental Health Treatment Center?

Core Principles of Trauma-Informed Treatment


Being intimidated by the idea of staying at a mental health treatment center is not unusual. It’s natural to be somewhat hesitant until you know all the details. Anything new and unknown can cause anxiety, even if you know it will help you. Knowing what to expect at a treatment center can make the experience less anxiety-inducing, so you can focus on what matters — getting better.

What to Expect in a Mental Health Treatment Center

Getting help in an inpatient mental health treatment center is a huge step toward recovery. It provides a safe and comfortable atmosphere, which facilitates your healing. By staying at a treatment center, you remove triggers and stressors from your daily life and focus on healing. 

“When you’re in a treatment center, you stay in the work. You don’t have to think about what’s going on in the world. You’re free from distractions and focusing on healing,” said Teresa Mock, Admissions Manager for Integrative Life Center.

On your healing journey, you’ll receive treatment that is unique to your situation. No two people are alike, which is why mental health treatment centers offer customized treatment plans. Since your situation is unique, the length of your stay depends on your needs and the treatment you choose. 

“It’s an immersive experience. You don’t go to therapy, then get in your car and go back to your typical day and regular life. You’re working on healing the entire time you’re there,” Teresa said.

Throughout your stay, you’ll participate in various treatments. Your program will include a structured, daily schedule to help you form a routine. During your stay, you’ll receive round-the-clock care from your team. You’ll work closely with your team of mental health professionals daily. 

What’s Daily Life Like at a Mental Health Center?

Although it can be challenging to alter your daily routine, mental health centers work with you to create a new routine. Although every day won’t be the same, your daily schedule will repeatedly consist of the same components. 

Your daily routine will likely include:

  • Individual Therapy. Individual therapy is tailored to meet your unique needs. You’ll have plenty of one-on-one time with your therapists, where your healing is their only priority. 
  • Group Therapy. Group therapy is less specialized, yet still helpful. It helps to interact with people on a similar mental health healing journey to yourself. 
  • Daily Treatment Sessions. No time is wasted. Every day is an opportunity for healing, which is why you’ll receive daily treatment sessions tailored to meet your needs. These sessions probably will include education about your specific mental health issue, including helping you understand what causes it and how your brain and body naturally respond. You’ll also experience enjoyable experiential therapy for a refreshing change in pace. 
  • Proper Sleep and Relaxation Time. Although daily treatment sessions can sound overwhelming, you will have plenty of time to sleep, relax, and recharge. You can expect free time between sessions to relax and contemplate what you’re learning.
  • Nutritious Daily Meals. Wholesome, nourishing meals throughout recovery give you energy and peace. You’ll get great-tasting meals that are healthy for you.

“The goal is for you to have an individualized, supportive, interactive treatment experience that helps you jump-start your recovery journey by putting you on the right road to healing,” Teresa explains.

Your daily routine will help you feel a sense of emotional safety and structure. It will also encourage you to form new, healthy habits. While most of your everyday needs will be provided for you — such as food, toiletries, and blankets — you can also pack belongings that improve your everyday life. 

What to Bring to a Mental Health Treatment Center

You should keep your luggage light, but don’t forget to pack essential items. While packing, be aware that most mental health centers will check your bags to ensure you only brought safe items. Be sure to ask in advance about what you’re allowed to bring.

Items to pack include:

  • Casual, comfortable clothing
  • Sleepwear
  • Reading materials
  • Insurance plan information
  • Prescription medications

If you have anything else you would like to bring, such as a smartphone or electronics, check in with your mental health treatment center to make sure it’s accepted. 

Treatment centers offer the most focused, effective mental health care that allows you to heal in a way you might not be able to at home. The focus is on your healing, meaning many common misconceptions about inpatient mental health care are false. 

Common Misconceptions about Mental Health Treatment Centers

Unfortunately, many films, TV shows, and books don’t accurately portray mental health treatment centers. Pop culture has created and fed misconceptions about inpatient mental health care. 

Misconceptions about mental health centers: 

  • You’re Locked Up. You won’t be locked up in a mental health treatment center. The goal is to help you feel safe and protected. You’ll never feel like a prisoner.  
  • Your Communication is Cut Off. Your communication with your family won’t be cut off. You’ll be able to make calls. You’ll also be encouraged to focus on yourself and your recovery.
  • You’ll Lose Time. Time in treatment isn’t “lost.” You’re working toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.
  • You’ll be Medicated. While medicine may be necessary in some cases, it is minimal and used only in combination with other innovative, holistic therapies.
  • You Undergo Exhausting Treatments. While every day will include treatment, some are experiential and fun, such as kayaking. Rest is also a top priority, and you’ll have plenty of downtime daily. 
  • You’ll be Forced to Socialize. You don’t have to say or share anything you don’t want to. Socializing with others during mental health treatment will help you feel less alone and give you hope.
  • Your Condition Won’t Improve. Recovery is the purpose of going to a mental health treatment center. Like with everything else, you’ll get out of the experience what you put into it. 

Heal in a Safe, Comfortable Environment at ILC

If you’re ready to heal, Integrative Life Center is ready to help. We can help you cope with the effects of trauma, depression, addiction, intimacy disorders, and other mental health disorders through physical, mental, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual healing. You’ll learn the skills necessary to develop a sense of self-efficacy, agency, and purpose to move forward into healing, health, and recovery. Contact us today to learn more.

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