Psychiatric hospitalization – When is it necessary?

Throughout history, significant changes in psychiatric care and rehabilitation have occurred due to increased medical knowledge regarding psychological disorders and their subsequent treatment. Although nowadays outpatient community-based services are highly emphasized and preferred, mental health professionals have acknowledged that “acute-care inpatient services are an essential part of the mental health continuum” (Sharfstein, 2009). The central reasons for inpatient psychiatric admissions are related to a person’s “need for crisis stabilization” (Sharfstein, 2009), and are particularly aimed at individuals, who could potentially pose a danger to themselves or others due to recurrent suicidal or homicidal thoughts combined with a psychiatric diagnosis. Severe substance abuse issues, acute eating or sleep disorders, and serious disability for self-care are merely a handful of conditions that may lead to a short-term psychiatric hospitalization. Interestingly, in case any of the afore-stated issues have been experienced by either oneself or others, individuals are either able to voluntarily admit themselves into a psychiatric hospital or be hospitalized ‘involuntarily’ due to court orders or medical referrals (Sharfstein, 2009).

Through various patient-centered treatment options, mental health professionals operating in psychiatric hospitals aim to fulfill a number of key objectives, the primary goal being the stabilization of patients’ mental states. Surveying patients’ psychosocial needs, protecting them from potentially harmful behaviors, making a thorough diagnosis, establishing efficient psychopharmacologic treatments, and always planning for discharge describe additional objectives that mental health professionals aim to achieve (Sharfstein, 2009; Cardoso & Galera, 2011).

Based on these key objectives and an extensive review of patients’ symptoms, mental health professionals are able to create individual and comprehensive treatment plans that highly emphasize patients’ safety and may include “medication, therapy, life skills training, group session, or activities such as art and yoga” (Minds, 2021). For the purpose of discussing recurrent issues or maladaptive behaviors and stabilizing fragile relationships, family therapy sessions are typically incorporated into the treatment plan, as such individuals are crucial in helping patients to safely adapt to the ‘outside world’ (Sharfstein, 2009). Hence, mental health professionals should always educate both the patient and family members about the current mental issue and its symptoms, and create prevention strategies to avoid further psychiatric hospitalizations. Importantly, a treatment plan is always formulated based on the initial reason for admission, the patients’ current conditions of life, the available social supports, and the diagnosis.

As for the diagnostic process, clinicians should always revise the initial diagnosis to enhance both psychopharmacological and psychological treatments and improve their treatment plan. During this process, a physical evaluation including neurological, blood, and toxicology screening tests should be conducted (Sharfstein, 2009).

Based on this research I gained an understanding regarding the criteria and treatment options associated with psychiatric hospitalizations and became aware of the fact that discharged patients must still continue with psychological or psychopharmacological treatments, as hospitalization might enhance their current mental state but might not completely help them recover within the institution itself (Sharfstein, 2009). According to Minds (2021), “psychiatric hospitalization is the beginning, and not the end, of treatment” and therefore I believe that it is crucial to spread awareness regarding the important role of family members and friends within patients’ recovery processes which could additionally lessen the stigma surrounding psychiatric hospitalizations.


Cardoso, L., & Galera, S. A. F. (2011). Psychiatric hospitalization and maintaining the treatment outside the hospital. Revista da Escola de Enfermagem da USP45, 87-94.

Minds, O. I. F (2021, May 19). When is psychiatric hospitalization necessary? Clarity Child Guidance Center.

Sharfstein, S. S. (2009). Goals of Inpatient Treatment for Psychiatric Disorders. Annual Review of Medicine, 60(1), 393–403. doi:10.1146/

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