Once at the hospital or crisis center, the individual will be evaluated by a professional, and a decision will be made as to whether inpatient hospitalization is medically necessary. A patient may be hospitalized voluntarily (called a “201”) or involuntarily (called a “302”). Usually, the emergency facility will perform a “bed search” to find space at a nearby psychiatric inpatient facility. In the meantime, the patient will stay at the ER or crisis center until a spot has been found for them at a hospital. It is not uncommon for this process to take time, sometimes even multiple days, because of the scarcity of available resources. Once a bed is found, the patient will be transported to the hospital, and inpatient treatment will begin.
Most people will receive inpatient treatment for about a week, although the length of stay can vary considerably. Upon discharge, the patient will receive referrals for aftercare services that the treatment team recommends. Services that are commonly recommended are outpatient psychotherapy, medication management with a psychiatrist, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. It is important to understand that the purpose of inpatient treatment is to achieve safety and stabilization in the very short term; most therapeutic progress occurs outside the hospital setting.