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When is hospitalization appropriate for mental health problems?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Psychiatric hospitalization is appropriate and warranted only after a professional has conducted an evaluation. Inpatient Hospitalization is the highest "Level of Care" for mental health problems.

The criteria for whether someone should be admitted to a psychiatric hospital as determined by a licensed mental health practitioner are as follows:

  • A person who is mentally ill and who because of his or her illness is reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or herself or another in the near future. 
  • A person who is mentally ill and who because of his or her illness is unable to provide for his or her basic physical needs so as to guard himself or herself from serious physical harm.
  • A person who is mentally retarded and is reasonably expected to inflict physical harm upon himself or herself or others in the near future.

 

Although most people with mental health problems never need hospitalization, sometimes it's necessary for people with severe mental illness. It's usually needed when the person can't manage the activities of daily living, such as eating properly and taking care of person hygiene. People who are in immediate danger of violent behavior against others or who are likely to hurt themselves or commit suicide generally need hospitalization. Sometimes hospitalization is needed when someone's mental illness becomes too severe for family members to handle.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.