Lived Experience Editorial

New Ways of Thinking and Doing

Rose, Brian T.1

1Lived Experience Editor, Journal of Recovery in Mental Health

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Psychiatric Hospitals, Lived Experience

Lord's article is very truthful and real: it shows that there are many cracks in the mental health system. Why does one in mental health crisis have to wait eight months to get treatment? This seems ridiculous. If I went into acute care and said that I am having a heart attack, would the doctor tell me to wait eight months to receive treatment? In my personal opinion, I think people going through a mental health crisis should have professional help readily available.

When I look back at my hospitalization, I do remember all the rules, curfews and measures put in place to earn privileges. I think as mental health patients, we should be able to live without so many rules and measures. Some rules are not in place because of policy but exist as common practice. I know over the last ten years progress has been made; but we must move from old ways of thinking and doing, and this can pose a challenge.


There is also significant isolation from community and the world. The hospital where I stayed is on a beautiful property; but the grounds are barely used, and community access is based on privilege level. There are beautiful courtyards, but patients cannot easily access them. They are locked but may be viewed from a ward window. Patients should always have access to these yards. Most therapies and treatment are usually done in white rooms. But while I was hospitalized, one therapist would provide treatment outside by the lake. This helped open me up and made me feel more comfortable talking. I think this out-of-the-box thinking is what could push psychiatric hospitals to improve their patient experience. Lord's frustration with his experience is clearly expressed in the article, but the message also communicated the existence of hope. He did receive help and learned many tools to help him on his journey although it took resilience and patience on his part. I am thankful to read this article and always love to hear others' experience through sharing their stories and journeys through the mental health system.


The article by Pinhas et al about the adolescent eating disorder recovery-oriented programming for residential treatment was illuminating. For the first time I was able to see how the unit operates with a motto, “Nothing about you, without you.” This speaks volumes about recovery-oriented care. While hospitalized, I often heard of this unit because they are the only unit in the hospital that has no glass to separate the nursing staff from clients. This has been a discussion for some time at the hospital whether other units should try this open concept design. I was disappointed to read that the television was in an enclosure; this makes the environment feel like an institution and not a healing place. The idea of teaching clients skills to make changes and empower individuals was very moving to read. They mentioned the clients “learn how to deal with failure, problem solve, and persevere.” I think this is so important in recovery. If one does not learn these skills, then relapse is inevitable. Independence is another word that reached out to me, to empower and teach skills and to ensure the adolescent has their own autonomy. In the recovery-based treatment plan, the adolescent is able to voice their own opinion and be a partner in their care in any discussion that is about them. So often while I was hospitalized, health care professionals would make decisions about my treatment without listening to my voice. The patient feedback description was wonderful to read as they actually explore opportunities for change, where an adolescent suggested change and changes were made. The promotion of self-worth is contingent on achievement so this is important when someone is suffering from an illness.


A fully stocked functional kitchen was a surprise to me. Most units in my experience do not utilize their kitchens; instead, food is catered in on dinner trays. There is self-worth associated with cooking your own meals, and one can play a better role in their own recovery. When everything is catered to the patient, it has an institutionalized feel. Patients need to be involved with their own recoveries. In space design, this unit looks and feels as non-institutional as possible and has private rooms. All units should be like this unit. Many units in my experience have shared rooms, and this can add to patient stress.


Recovery high school is an important experience as education opens so many doors to people. I was enlightened to see a description about peer-support impact on the unit. While I was in hospital, the peer-support office was a second home to me. It is always nice to get a perspective from someone who has lived with a mental illness when suffering from a mental illness. The description of challenges and opportunities stood out to me. While I was hospitalized, there were many rules: some were even unwritten rules that were, at times, conflicting. This made life difficult as a patient. Overall, I believe the adolescent eating disorder unit is at the forefront of mental health care, and other units should follow this great example.


Copyright (c) 2017 Brian T. Rose

Journal of Recovery in Mental Health ISSN 2371-2376