How to Tell If Inpatient vs. Outpatient Mental Health Care Is Right for You
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Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. If you’re living in the Redwood City area and are considering mental health treatment, you may be wondering what your options are and what kind of program is right for you. This guide will explore the two main treatment options: inpatient and outpatient care. Once you understand your options, you can decide which path best supports your journey to wellness. 

Understanding your options

There are two main treatment options for mental health care:

  • Inpatient careInpatient care can be in a hospital setting or a residential setting. The type of inpatient care you choose can depend on the severity of your condition. All settings of inpatient care provide you with a supportive environment that is dedicated solely to your recovery. Types of inpatient care can include:
  • Acute psychiatric hospitals — These facilities can provide intensive treatment for severe mental health crises. Treatment often includes medication management, crisis intervention and stabilization in a safe and supportive environment. 
  • General hospital psychiatric units — These are specialized units that offer psychiatric services in a medical hospital. They provide a similar level of care to psychiatric hospitals and can be beneficial for people with significant medical needs. 
  • Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) — These centers offer longer-term care for people with chronic mental health issues. They can provide a structured environment with a variety of therapeutic programming. These may include individual and group therapy, skill-building sessions, and even educational services. 
  • Substance abuse treatment centers — Many of these centers can offer inpatient care for people who are struggling with addiction. They can also provide dual diagnosis treatment for concurrent mental health conditions. 
  • Specialized programs for specific disorders — Some facilities focus on treating specific mental health disorders, such as depression, eating disorders or PTSD. These programs can offer tailored therapies and interventions specific to the condition being treated. 
  • Outpatient careOutpatient programs can offer you flexibility in your treatment. You can continue living at home while attending your therapy sessions, support groups and medication management appointments. Outpatient care can be ideal if your symptoms are mild to moderate and you have an incredible and strong support system in place to help you. Outpatient care can be a Partial Hospitalization Program, also known as a Day Treatment Program, or an Intensive Outpatient Program.

Shining a light on who may benefit from a specific level of care

If you are trying to go in the right direction and choose the program that might be most beneficial for you, you should consider the intensity of symptoms and the effect they’re having on your quality of life. 

Inpatient care might be a good choice for you if you are experiencing:

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Severe anxiety or depression that is significantly impacting your daily life
  • Difficulty caring for basic needs like eating, sleeping or keeping good hygiene
  • Psychosis or hallucinations
  • Substance use co-occurring with a mental health condition

Outpatient care can be a powerful tool if you are experiencing:

  • Moderate anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty managing stress
  • Relationship or family issues
  • A need for ongoing support and therapy

No matter what, you need to remember that you’re not alone in this journey! If you are struggling with making a decision or feel like you’re at a point of swaying to one level or another, you can ask for help. A mental health professional can assess your specific needs and recommend the most appropriate treatment option. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor, a therapist or a local mental health organization for additional guidance and support. 

Finding the light close to home

If you’re considering inpatient care, there may be facilities in your surrounding area. It’s important to find a program that feels comfortable and can meet your specific needs. It can be beneficial to research or talk to a professional to find a program that fits your needs. They can help you determine if an inpatient mental health center or a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is a better fit for your condition. Lightfully has RTCs in Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks and San Diego. These are our home-based environments that are designed to offer you the comforts of home with the higher level of care and support you need during treatment. 

If you’ve completed inpatient treatment at an inpatient mental health center or at one of our RTCs and are transitioning back to life in Redwood City, our outpatient treatment programs can be an excellent option to help you on your ongoing recovery journey. We offer a variety of outpatient programs right here in San Jose, eliminating your need for a long commute for your care. Our programs include:

  • Partial Hospitalization Program — Our Partial Hospitalization Program is also known as our Day Treatment Program. It can be great if you need a higher level of support, but can spend your nights independently. It is structured to provide you with tailored support to your needs. You can start at this level of care, or it can be a transition down from inpatient to outpatient. 
  • Intensive Outpatient Program — An Intensive Outpatient Program is less intensive than a Day Treatment Program, but still provides you with a higher level of care while remaining at home. Like the other sessions, it is structured to provide you with personalized care to help treat your specific needs. 
  • Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program — In addition to in-person sessions, we also have a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program option. This option can broaden your access to care and provide an even more flexible mental health treatment program. It can be a careful balance of support and independence if you are transitioning down from a higher level of care or provide you with a safe and welcoming environment if you are new to therapy. 

Healing is a journey, not a destination. Lightfully can help you as you go

Choosing the right mental health care program is a significant step toward achieving a brighter future. Whether inpatient or outpatient care is right for you, the most important thing you can do is to take action and prioritize your well-being. There’s no shame in seeking help. With the right support system and treatment plan like our evidence-based, process-based therapy, we can help you reclaim your life. Our compassionate, licensed clinical experts in Redwood City strive to provide whole-person-centered care to help you on your path to healing and happiness. 

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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