What Are the Rules During Psychiatric Hospitalization

Today, phone use is a regular feature of most people’s lives. That includes most people affected by a serious mental illness. Which leads many to ask, “Can you have your phone in a mental hospital?

Modern phones do not merely allow you to place a call to someone. In fact, quite often, making calls is a secondary activity. Instead, phones are mainly used to send text messages or access the Internet.

These considerations underscore a common question for people entering a mental or psychiatric hospital. Do mental hospitals allow phones? The answer to this question is not the same for everyone.

Your phone access typically depends on the setting for hospitalization. It may also be affected by other factors. These same factors have an impact on your access to a computer during hospitalization.

What Constitutes a Mental Health Facility

Before addressing the question of phone access, it helps to define exactly what constitutes a mental health facility. It also helps to define the specific types of facilities that qualify as hospitals.

Mental Health Facilities

Broadly speaking, a mental health facility is any facility that provides treatment for mental illnesses. Depending on your situation, you may receive that treatment in a variety of settings. Examples of common settings include:

  • Privately run facilities
  • Regional or community facilities operated by local governments
  • Federal facilities

You may also receive help in a substance treatment center. Why do centers of this type qualify as mental health facilities?

Under current guidelines, all substance disorders are defined as forms of mental illness. This means that any facility treating these disorders provides mental health services.

Some mental health facilities feature outpatient programs. Others feature inpatient or residential programs. In addition, some facilities offer multiple program options.

Mental or Psychiatric Hospitals

Mental or Psychiatric Hospitals

Hospitals are inpatient medical facilities. They provide a level of intensive treatment not possible even in a non-hospital residential facility. The types of services provided in a psychiatric hospital include:

  • Observation and diagnosis of your condition
  • Stabilization of any uncontrolled symptoms of your illness
  • Preventing you from attempting suicide or hurting other people

Some people enter a hospital voluntarily. However, involuntary entry is also common. You can be admitted involuntarily if you pose a threat to your own safety or anyone else’s.

Many psychiatric hospitals only provide mental health care. You may also receive help in a multi-purpose hospital with a psychiatric floor or wing. A ward or unit within a given facility may be open or locked.

In open units, you have access to entrances and exits. In locked units, you cannot access an entrance or an exit on your own. As a rule, voluntary units are open, while involuntary units are locked.

Do Mental Hospitals Allow Phones

Do you have a legal right to bring your phone to a psychiatric hospital? The short answer to this question is no. You do have a federally protected right to phone access. But this is not the same thing as bringing your personal phone.

As long as your facility provides you with a way to make a call, it is not in violation of the law. That includes access to a phone room at certain times of the day.

Still, many facilities do allow personal phones in some circumstances. If you enter your facility voluntarily, chances are good that you will enjoy access to your phone.

However, not all facilities provide access even in this situation. And when access is provided, you typically must follow a set of rules.

For example, you may only be able to use your phone at certain times of the day. Your facility may also bar you from using some of the functions on your phone. If you violate the rules, you can lose your access privileges.

In contrast, involuntarily admitted people typically do not enjoy phone access. There are a number of reasons for this common restriction.

Those same reasons help explain why hospitals put limits on phone access for voluntarily admitted people. In addition, they explain why personal computer access is similarly restricted or forbidden.

Why Are Mental Hospitals Usually Electronics-Free?

So, why are mental hospitals usually electronics-free? Or to be more accurate, why do mental hospitals restrict access to personal phones and computers?

Concerns About Access to False Health Information

One major concern is the sheer volume of information available on the Internet. Today, people from all backgrounds regularly use the Internet to search for health-related information. This can be beneficial in some cases. However, far too often, Internet users do not check the validity of advice offered on the Internet.

Instead, they go to whatever source catches their eye or fits their preconceived ideas. These circumstances allow false information to flow just as easily as accurate information.

If anything, people in a psychiatric hospital are even more susceptible to misinformation. Unverified things you read may conflict with your current treatment. That can lead to serious misunderstandings between you and your doctor. It can also lead you to make poor or improper decisions about your care.

The Potential Mental Health Impact of Phone and Computer Use

The Potential Mental Health Impact of Phone and Computer Use

Research shows that heavy Internet use may damage your mental health. Specific potential problems include increased risks for:

No one can say for sure if Internet use actually causes these problems. However, that possibility must be taken seriously. The same concern applies to people already affected by mental illness.

Risks for Misuse of Phone and Computer Access

If you require hospital treatment, you are suffering from very serious mental health issues. These issues often include a poor ability to think clearly or control your impulses. In combination with phone or computer access, this can be a problem waiting to happen. Potential outcomes include:

  • Using your access to make threats against others
  • Posting untrue or inaccurate information about others
  • Making public comments that cause distress for your friends or family

Privacy Risks

Privacy is also a concern. That includes a risk to your own privacy if you release certain kinds of information. It also includes the possibility that you could post information about other people receiving treatment. In addition, it includes risks for posting private details about hospital staff. These concerns are highlighted by the universal presence of cameras on modern phone and computers. You may unknowingly post damaging information. There is also the chance that you or someone else could do it on purpose.

How to Communicate From a Mental Health Facility

Given the likely restrictions, how do you communicate from a mental facility? Your options will vary depending on your facility. However, all facilities allow you to make phone calls in one way or another. Today, some psychiatric hospitals provide onsite computer access, as well as onsite phone access.

In fact, there are facilities that take advantage of the Internet as an educational resource. However, in these facilities, your access to the Internet will still be limited and closely monitored.

Planning Ahead for Mental Health Treatment

Planning Ahead for Mental Health Treatment

When it comes to phone use, planning ahead for mental health treatment is important. Do what you can to get information on your facility’s policies in advance. This will help you avoid any nasty surprises.

No matter the rules at your facility, do your best to follow them. Otherwise, your privileges may be revoked. And in some cases, you may even be dismissed from your program.

Remember that the rules at a typical facility are not arbitrary. Instead, they are the result of consideration of the pros and cons of allowing phone use. Phones can help you stay connected to the outside world. However, they can also interfere with successful treatment in a variety of ways.

They may also allow you to interfere with other people’s treatment or otherwise cause problems in your facility. Bear these things in mind when thinking about bringing your phone to a psychiatric hospital.

Choosing Emerald Isle for Behavioral Healthcare

Phones play a central role in modern life. But while they provide many advantages, they also come with serious potential drawbacks. These drawbacks are magnified in a mental health care setting.

While psychiatric hospitals must allow you access to a phone, they do not have to allow you to use your own. If you enter a hospital voluntarily, you may have access to it on a limited basis.

However, expect to have no access at all if you enter involuntarily.

Have other questions about things allowed or not allowed in a mental hospital? Ask the professionals at Emerald Isle Recovery. We are familiar with the general guidelines followed by hospitals.

With our help, you can get a better idea of what to bring and what not to bring.

You can also choose Emerald Isle for behavioral healthcare in a residential setting. Our non-hospital services will help you recover from illnesses that still require a high level of treatment.

This is important to know, since residential care may also play an important role in your larger journey toward wellness. For more information on our available treatment options, contact us today.