Can I just show up at the psych ward?
September 14, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Can I check myself into a psychiatric hospital?

Hi. I've been having a really hard time of it lately and today it kind of got to the breaking point. The point where I don't know how I'm going to go on. I honestly don't think I can take another day of this. I really need someone understanding to talk to and help me figure out what's going on with me. I have a husband but he's too frustrated with me to be much help. I don't really have any friends to speak of and I don't want to freak my parents out.

I was thinking of checking in to a psych ward tomorrow in lieu of going to work (the source of my problems). I've never so much as seen a therapist before, though. Can you just call a hospital and ask if they've got any room and can you come by? How do you find a psych hospital anyway (I'm in Chicago, by the way)? Will it be covered by insurance
(I have BCBS PPO)? Do they tell your work for you? What do they tell them? I have to say I honestly wouldn't mind letting the people at the place of my employment know they've driven me to the psych ward.

I found a good thread on what it's like at the psych ward but the person going there was referred by his therapist.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should see a therapist first and get a referral. Your therapist will know if such drastic action is necessary and will make the referral properly to ensure smooth transfer and will probably recommend the facility that will help you the most.

This is probably the only time I will answer with "see a therapist" on AskMeFi. It feels good!
posted by michaelh at 9:35 AM on September 14, 2011

I think your best option is to call a psychiatrist (or a bunch of them) and try to get an appointment for tomorrow. Then get a referral from them. If that doesn't work, yes, you can absolutely go to the emergency room, tell them what you said here, and ask to be treated as a psych inpatient, but you may not end up in the best hospital if you do that - you'll just end up whereever there is the most beds. On the other hand, you WILL get immediate treatment, and if that's the only approach that you can manage, do it. Good for you for realising you need help.

posted by lollusc at 9:37 AM on September 14, 2011

Most psych hospitals will do an evaluation prior to admitting you. You can google for hospitals and then setup this eval. More than likely, they won't admit you, but will recommend a therapist and setup therapy.

My advise would be to search for the local psych department in a respected hospital near you (like one associated with a University) and see if they have an out-patient program.

In some cases, you'll be able to get an apt with a therapist the same day.

They will ask you over the phone why you called - just keep it high-level. Tell them, I have depression and I'd like to talk to someone. Or tell them, I'd like to talk about my social anxiety. It doesn't matter all that much.

They'll be able to tell you if your insurance covers the visit.

Before saying anything at work - just take the day off for personal reasons. Your condition may change from day to day. Ask your therapist how to approach your work situation after day 1.

Good luck!
posted by joshuamcginnis at 9:41 AM on September 14, 2011

Not tomorrow. Right now. Make an emergency appointment for today.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2011 [6 favorites]

MeMail me if you want somebody to talk to. I've been in a similar situation.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2011

go to a local psych ER. they can help you from there.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:44 AM on September 14, 2011

Here is a link to crisis psychiatric providers in Illinois. They may be able to guide you through the process of hispitalization or finding other resources. If you are feeling suicidal, absolutely go to the nearest ER. You can request hospitalization yourself, but it can be challenging to find an available bed, work through insurance issues, etc. It helps if you have a therapist or psychiatrist (available at the above places) who can assist you in making the referral. Take good care of yourself.
posted by goggie at 9:57 AM on September 14, 2011

Also, does your workplace have an employee assistance program? They can also help guide you through this process.
posted by goggie at 9:58 AM on September 14, 2011

Your insurance company may be able to find an emergency mental health provider for you, if they have a "let us help you find a covered doctor" help line.
posted by endless_forms at 10:07 AM on September 14, 2011

"I have to say I honestly wouldn't mind letting the people at the place of my employment know they've driven me to the psych ward."

This is not generally why most people end up in psych wards.

"I have a husband but he's too frustrated with me to be much help. I don't really have any friends to speak of and I don't want to freak my parents out."

Your husband is going to not be really into it when you disappear for 72 hours for psych eval, without talking to him first.

"Do they tell your work for you? What do they tell them?"

No, medical professionals don't talk to your place of employment.

So... You need someone professional to talk to. Now. It's impossible to tell what's going on with you here but it sounds like you're friendless, have damaged your relationship with your husband and hate your job. (Or are projecting! Or want to punish the people at work who've hurt you in whatever way. No idea!)

So? Tell your job that you are leaving for a week for an emergency. If you can't stand it there another second, stop going, and deal with the consequences later. Maybe you'll get fired, maybe not, but it likely couldn't be worse than it is right now. And get a professional to talk to, ASAP.

If you're in danger of hurting yourself, which you didn't say here, you can actually just call 911. So can your spouse or parents.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:14 AM on September 14, 2011 [6 favorites]

The psych ward isn't someplace you're going to feel...comfortable. Even taking yourself to the ER for an evaluation will be rather unpleasant and if you're not in immediate danger of harming yourself or others, they will mostly likely recommend a partial hospitalization program.

You should be able to self-refer, your insurance should cover it (but there will be an admission fee). Programs run anywhere from 2-6 weeks, depending on your needs and you can likely start right away.

Feel free to memail me, and good luck.
posted by noxetlux at 10:16 AM on September 14, 2011

PHPs are full-day programs. You'll need a FMLA form from your HR if you go this route.
posted by noxetlux at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2011

Yes, you can. You can be immediately admitted if they feel you are an immediate threat to yourself or others. I have also known people who needed to be in a safe place, NOW, and been admitted.

The Northwestern psych ward is very nice. If you have a choice, pick them. St. Joseph's outpatient program is fantastic, and I know people who've been in their inpatient and thought it was fine. This is usually covered by insurance, mostly, but only your insurer can tell you the particulars. The typical treatment, if you are really hurting, is inpatient, then intensive outpatient, then "regular" outpatient where you see a therapist/psychiatrist/psychologist/counselor on a regular basis.

I do not know the procedure for informing work, but BCBS can NOT tell your work why you are out, just that it is a medical reason.

Do you have a primary care doc? Call them. They should be able to find a therapist for you. If not, call the admitting line and ask. It is ok.

Good luck. It can get better
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:34 AM on September 14, 2011

Does your job offer an Employee Assistance Plan(EAP)? You may be able to call and talk to someone right now. I've used the plan my employer offers, and was pleased with it. I also got the 1st 6 therapist visits for no copay, and help finding a therapist that was also covered by my insurance.

You're overwhelmed. Take a sick day, and make calls. Go to the ER if you must. I had a day when work-related crap was so bad that I just couldn't leave the house, and the EAP folks really came through. It really is a sick day, not a personal day.

Now, I document the crap at work, lawyered up and let them know I lawyered up, got a therapist who helped me deal with some work-related crises, and stand up for myself a hell of a lot more. It's not great, but it's better than it was. My lawyer has a great perspective and basically told me that I have a good case to sue my employer, but that it's a horrible process, unlikely to be very satisfying, and it's better to make the job manageable. getting the validation helped.

Psych wards don't necessarily offer the most therapeutic environment. You need a really good therapist, possibly several times a week. The trouble with quitting is losing health insurance.

If you are thinking of hurting yourself or others, do go to the ER, or call 911.

It really can get better.
posted by theora55 at 10:59 AM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here is what you do: go to Look for a psychiatrist who takes your insurance (or doesn't!) and has an appointment today or tomorrow. Seriously, you need to see someone ASAP, as you know. Book the appointment online - it's easy. Show up. Tell the psychiatrist everything. They will help, and NOT necessarily with medication (though I would suggest being open to it, at least for now) - I promise. Good luck.
posted by infinityjinx at 11:54 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you (hopefully with the advice of a psychiatrist or therapist) decide that hospitalization is the appropriate course of action, don't worry that you need to wait until you can get the FMLA paperwork in order. From the Department of Labor's Fact Sheet #28: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (emphasis added):
Employees seeking to use FMLA leave are required to provide 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable and such notice is practicable. If leave is foreseeable less than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable – generally, either the same or next business day. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice to the employer as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances of the particular case. Absent unusual circumstances, employees must comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave.

Employees must provide sufficient information for an employer reasonably to determine whether the FMLA may apply to the leave request. Depending on the situation, such information may include that the employee is incapacitated due to pregnancy, has been hospitalized overnight, is unable to perform the functions of the job, and/or that the employee or employee’s qualifying family member is under the continuing care of a health care provider.
Best wishes.
posted by Lexica at 3:10 PM on September 14, 2011

Yes, you can. Most cities (especially Chicago) have psychiatric emergency centers. If you think you may want to hurt yourself, call 1-800-SUICIDE. You can also report to any ER and they will give you treatment, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. (Your insurance will bill you later). Go now, and be well. Please give an update.
posted by stillmoving at 2:52 AM on September 17, 2011

« Older MetroCard dead drop?   |   C'mon, baby! Don't say maybe! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.