Many people think of treatment, especially residential treatment, as being for individuals with substance abuse issues, and not necessarily for mental health disorders. While it is true addictions develop from psychological (or mental health) struggles, not all mental health issues lead to addiction. Many people struggle with a mental health issue and it has not progressed to an addiction. Those having an addiction and a major mental health issue are called “Dual Diagnosis” patients.
Mental Health Disorders Are Not Always Connected to Substance Abuse
According to SAMHSA, 17.5 million Americans over the age of 18 (or 8 percent of the adult population) had a serious mental health disorder in the past year. (Many more struggle with minor or short term mental health disorders). The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are also affected by substance abuse. Although there is often a correlation between the two disorders, there are many Americans with mental health disorders that do not have an addiction according to traditional diagnostic methods. These are people who still need to find quality treatment programs.
Evaluating the Psychiatric Need
Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio says that the first step to recovering from a mental health disorder is to have a psychiatric evaluation done. This is the most comprehensive place to start, and according to Dr. Benzio, “A psychiatric evaluation will help rule out any medical issues that might be the cause of the psychological disorder or symptoms.” Lighthouse Network provides clients with case management services that help them find a psychiatrist to evaluate and diagnose, then a therapist to start talk therapy customized for their issue.
During the initial assessment, a comprehensive interview as well as lab tests and images of the brain can be ordered by the psychiatrist to help in the diagnosis process. Once the diagnosis is clear and issues the person is facing are known, it will be time to begin treatment. Mental health services depend on the severity of symptoms and the person’s ability to function. For some people, psychiatric medications are very helpful at the beginning of the treatment process. Certain medications can help reduce the symptoms of the disorder, and allow more functioning and fulfillment for the client. However, while medications can provide symptom relief, they should not be used as the only method for treatment.
The Importance of Therapy for the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
An important component to recovery that cannot be overlooked is therapy with a skilled professional. Dr. Benzio explains, “Psychiatric medications, although very helpful for many mood, anxiety, or thinking issues, are not the cure. Medications do not get to the root cause of the psychological struggle. Working with a therapist to get to some of the core issues and to develop the necessary coping, life-management, and decision-making skills is really the most important and lasting way to re-wire your brain, or as the Bible says, ‘renew the mind.'”
A good and conscientious treatment provider or facility will have processes in place to facilitate a safe treatment and transformational environment. It will also customize treatment plans according to each patient’s needs. There are different levels of care for mental health issues, much like for addiction rehab. These levels include:
Outpatient: Outpatient treatment allows clients to attend group or individual therapy sessions as frequently as twice a week, weekly or every other week. Some of the sessions could be with a psychiatrist to prescribe medications. The length of time for this type of recovery varies according to the issue and the patient’s needs, but could range from 10 weeks to 10 years. This is the most common form of treatment and level of care to help a person improve their functioning as they get coaching from a trained expert who really gets to know them.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP): As its name suggests, Intensive Outpatient treatment is a little more structured, and allows individuals to attend group therapy 3 days per week for about 2-3 hours per day. Sometimes an individual session or sessions are included. For those with better financial resources, IOP can be 3-5 individual sessions per week. The overall length of this type of treatment usually lasts between 3 weeks and 3 months for the individual to stabilize to their usual level of functioning, then transition to the outpatient frequency and intensity.
Partial Hospital Program (PHP): Also known as Day Treatment, Partial Hospitalization requires clients to go to a clinic or hospital for therapy 5 days a week for about 5-6 hours per day. This is a shorter phase of recovery, and usually lasts 5 to 20 days, Monday through Friday. This level is for the person who is really struggling and having trouble functioning but able to be safe enough to live at home and reliable enough to make it to treatment on a daily basis. It is very intensive but because of the short time, the staff doesn’t get as thorough knowledge of the individual.
Inpatient Psychiatric Care: Inpatient care for a psychiatric disorder is the highest level of care for someone recovering from a mental health disorder. Patients in this type of care live in a medically supervised inpatient unit where they sleep and eat all their meals, and attend many groups and therapeutic activities throughout the day. This short phase of stabilization usually lasts 2 to 15 days. The primary goal is safety (especially for suicidal or psychotic patients), assessment and diagnosis as observed by trained staff 24/7, and opportunity to be aggressive with starting and quickly titrating medications.
Longer Term Residential: Residential care usually lasts from 30 days to one year, and offers a safe and structured environment in which the client can develop better life management skills to successfully transition to a more independent living situation. This level is for the individual whose mental health issue is relatively stabilized so they don’t need a locked inpatient unit, but for various reasons, they are have trouble living independently and need some daily supervision and coaching.
If you or someone you love is suffering with a psychological or mental health issue, we can help. Call our Lighthouse Network Care Guides at 844-LifeChange (543-3242) to find out about treatment options that are right for you. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you begin your path to recovery.