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Long-Term Psychiatric Hospitals vs. Long-Term Residential Treatment 

long-term psychiatric care in connecticut

Mental illness affects close to 58 million Americans today, but no story is the same. Every person struggles with their own symptoms and faces their own challenges because of their condition. When it comes to treating mental illness, then, it’s important to receive a personalized evaluation – so that whoever is struggling can receive a treatment plan that meets all of their needs.  

Two common options for mental health treatment are long-term psychiatric hospitals and long-term residential treatment centers. The names of these facilities sound similar, but their approaches, environments, and program lengths are unique. Read on to learn more about the types of long-term mental health facilities available, in order to find the best treatment option for you or your loved one. 

First: Why is Long-Term Treatment Important? 

Mental health conditions—whether that be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or another psychiatric condition—are chronic in nature, meaning symptoms can be long-lasting and recurrent. Those who are struggling with mental illness typically do so for several months or more, and symptoms can persist throughout the stretch of a person’s life. However, despite this, it’s important to know that mental illness is very manageable. With consistent attention and care, a person can live a long, successful, meaningful life – you do not need to feel defined, or confined, by your mental health condition. 

We explain the chronic nature of mental illness because, as a result, it requires long-term care. Treatment for mental health conditions takes time, as individuals must take time to understand their condition, learn how to cope with difficult symptoms, and develop a productive, satisfying life. Long-term treatment provides this support, as well as helps to stabilize conditions and prevent relapses. 

Below are some of the other reasons why long-term psychiatric treatment is important: 

  • Long-term treatment is necessary for complex disorders. Treating mental illness often involves a combination of therapies, medications, lifestyle changes, and support services. Long-term treatment allows for this level of comprehensiveness, offering a robust and personalized approach to effectively address the complexity of mental illness. 
  • Long-term treatment prioritizes symptom management. Mental health symptoms can fluctuate over time and, as a result, may require adjustments to one’s treatment strategies. Long-term treatment allows for the ongoing monitoring of symptoms and adjustments to treatment plans as needed, to ensure optimal symptom management and improvement in functioning. 
  • Long-term treatment focuses on skill development, too. For many individuals with psychiatric disorders, achieving and maintaining recovery involves more than just symptom control. Long-term treatment provides opportunities for holistic rehabilitation, helping patients to develop coping skills, improve interpersonal relationships, find meaning, and achieve their goals. 
  • Long-term treatment helps to prevent crises. Most long-term treatment facilities are also residential, meaning patients benefit from 24/7, watchful and continuous care. This continuous treatment and support can help prevent crises or exacerbations of mental health symptoms that may lead to hospitalization or other emergencies. By addressing and staying on top of mental health needs proactively, long-term treatment reduces the risk of serious setbacks. Additionally, patients always have somewhere to turn should they need a shoulder of support. 

Overall, long-term psychiatric treatment provides the continuity of care, comprehensive support, and specialized staff necessary for treating complex conditions. These programs help individuals to manage their conditions effectively, achieve recovery, and lead fulfilling lives long-term. 

Now that we understand the benefits of long-term treatment, let’s compare two types of facilities that provide this level of extended mental health care. 

Long-Term Psychiatric Hospitals  

A long-term psychiatric hospital is a specialized medical facility that provides care and treatment for individuals with severe and persistent mental health conditions. These hospitals are designed to offer comprehensive psychiatric care over an extended period, often for patients who require intensive treatment, monitoring, and support due to the chronic and complex nature of their mental illnesses. 

Patients in long-term psychiatric hospitals may have diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, personality disorders, or other mental health conditions that significantly impair their ability to function in day-to-day life. Treatment in these hospitals is often tailored to the individual needs of each patient, with a focus on addressing their specific symptoms and providing clinical support. 

Long-term psychiatric hospitals can often provide a range of mental health services, including medication management, psychotherapy, and behavioral interventions. The goal of these services is to help patients stabilize their symptoms and develop strategies to manage their symptoms after leaving treatment. Services are offered in a hospital-based setting or medical center. The benefit of this is the availability of clinical support and attention. However, hospital-based settings may not be ideal for long-term stays. 

The length of stay required in a psychiatric hospital will depend on each individual’s condition, symptoms, and needs. Some people only stay for a few days, others stay for a few weeks or months. In the U.S., studies show that the average length of stay in hospital-based psychiatric treatment is about 25 days. However, long-term mental health hospitals may offer extended patient stays, sometimes up to three months, depending on a patient’s needs. 

While long-term psychiatric hospitals can address and help to manage the difficult symptoms of mental illness, they do not always offer the length of care required for severe psychiatric disorders. In these instances, a psychiatric hospital might refer patients to a continued care facility where they can continue receiving therapy and support. For example, residential treatment programs (also called inpatient treatment programs) are a common next step after a psychiatric hospital stay is complete. These residential programs offer ongoing support in a structured living environment. Clients live at these facilities while having 24/7 access to mental health care. (More on this below!) 

Overall, long-term psychiatric hospitals provide specialized care for individuals with complex psychiatric disorders who require extended support and treatment of their symptoms. However, for some individuals, these mental health hospitals are just one piece of a long-term treatment plan. 

Long-Term Residential Treatment for Mental Health 

Residential mental health treatment programs, also known as inpatient treatment programs, are similar to psychiatric hospitals in that they offer ongoing care and support for individuals struggling with mental illness. However, residential treatment facilities differ in their environments, approaches, as well as program lengths. 

Long-term, residential mental health facilities provide a structured living environment and comprehensive care services for individuals battling mental illness. Unlike psychiatric hospitals, these programs offer even longer-term care in a comfortable, residential setting where clients live. Residential mental health centers, therefore, will offer numerous amenities to residents outside of what you might find in a “typical” treatment or clinical setting. At Turnbridge, for instance, clients have access to: 

  • Deliciously prepared, nutritious meals 
  • Fitness centers and in-house gyms 
  • Yoga classes 
  • Art and music studios 
  • Libraries 
  • Protected, serene outdoor environments 
  • A community of other residents, of similar ages, walking in similar shoes 
  • Access to downtown New Haven, as clients progress in their treatment journey, where they can attend 12-step meetings, explore volunteer or work opportunities, or even take classes 

Setting is an important component of residential treatment, and at Turnbridge, all of the living environments reflect the quality, attention to detail, and beauty that we ask our clients to see in themselves. Here, we believe that a setting built for success allows clients to find and be their best. Learn about our recovery center for women here, or our residences for men facing mental health conditions. 

The length of stays offered in long-term, residential facilities is slightly longer than what you’d typically find in a psychiatric hospital. These programs typically last 90 days or longer, depending on an individual’s needs. At Turnbridge, clients have found the most success in programs that last 270 days or longer, providing them sufficient time to accept, understand, and overcome their mental health struggles. This length of time enables clients to develop life skills and social networks that will carry through into a lasting recovery. 

Residential treatment programs, like hospital-based programs, offer a range of therapeutic interventions, including individual and group therapy, behavioral therapies, medication management, life skills training, recreational activities, and support for daily living tasks. However, residential programs often offer academic guidance, vocational training, life skills development, and social activities to help patients reintegrate into the community when appropriate – setting them apart from psychiatric hospitals. 

Overall, the focus of residential programs is to create supportive and structured environments where individuals can work toward their mental health goals, develop coping skills, and learn strategies for managing their symptoms effectively. At the same time, residents can connect with one another, find support in an entire community of like-minded individuals, prepare for life after treatment, and have access to the 24/7 clinical care necessary for complex conditions. 

Residential treatment centers offer the support of a multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and counselors. These experts collaborate to provide holistic care tailored to each individual’s needs. Some residential programs for mental health will be tailored to certain populations, with clinicians specializing in certain demographics. So, as you conduct your research of programs, be sure to look for one that best fits your or your loved one’s needs. Turnbridge, for example, offers mental health treatment services for adolescents and young adults with a range of mental health or substance use disorders. 

The ultimate goal of residential mental health treatment programs is to help individuals stabilize their mental health, improve their overall functioning, thrive in a supportive community, develop important coping skills, and transition back to independent living when appropriate. These programs can be particularly beneficial for individuals who require more intensive support than outpatient therapy but do not need the level of intensive medical care provided in an inpatient psychiatric hospital.  

Finding Long-Term Psychiatric Care 

Studies show that long-term care facilities are more effective than short-term facilities for treating mental health conditions. Especially in cases of dual diagnosis, where multiple mental health and substance use disorders are affecting an individual, long-term mental health treatment is crucial to a lasting recovery. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center tracking data, patients who received treatment at U.S. hospitals with shorter lengths of stay were three times more likely to be readmitted to a psychiatric hospital within a few months, than those with longer lengths of stay. National research supports the sentiment that those with a higher risk for relapse may benefit to a greater degree from continuing care. 

If you are seeking more information about long-term treatment options, and are wondering what is best for you or your loved one, Turnbridge can offer guidance and support. With inpatient and outpatient programs available, as well as a network of clinicians specializing in mental health care, we are available to answer any questions you might have about long-term psychiatric care. Call us at 877-581-1793 today.