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Psych Ward vs. Mental Hospital: What’s the Difference?

Do people still go to psych wards? Are they different from mental hospitals? If I’m considering a psych ward vs. a mental hospital, how do I know which one to choose? Understanding common mental health terminology can help you make the best decisions for yourself or for someone that you care about.

What Is a Psych Ward?

The first thing to know about psych wards is that this term isn’t used that often anymore. This reflects changes in how people with mental health concerns are treated. It also indicates an appreciation for the way that certain terms can perpetuate stereotypes or stigma about mental illnesses.

In the past, a psych ward typically described a separate area of a hospital where people who had severe mental illnesses stayed until they achieved a level of stabilization. Psych ward was sometimes also used as a general term for any facility that provided mental health treatment. 

For many people, the term psych ward often conjures images of a cold, sterile environment where people were treated harshly (and were often detained against their will). As far as names go, “psych ward” may be a step up from the offensive “insane asylum” of long ago – but it is often associated more with warehousing people than with treating them.

This is not meant to imply that everyone who worked in a psych ward was malevolent. Nor are we trying to imply that all psych wards were dreary and/or oppressive places. But if the thought of entering a psych ward prevents a person from seeking help, then updated terminology can be beneficial. In this sense, the psych ward vs. mental health difference is as much a matter of semantics as it is about a varied approach to treatment. 

Psych Ward vs. Mental Hospital

A mental hospital is a facility that is dedicated to treating people who have anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health concerns. These facilities are sometimes also referred to as mental health hospitals. 

When the term psych ward is used in a non-pejorative manner to describe a part of a hospital, then the main difference between a psych ward vs. a mental hospital has to do with focus and scope of services. 

Most general hospitals have many wards or units, such as maternity, oncology, cardiac care, and pediatrics. In these facilities, treating people who have mental illnesses is just one part of a much larger operation.

A mental health hospital has one focus: helping people whose lives have been disrupted by mental health challenges. Modern mental hospitals are designed to be warm and welcoming spaces. Mental health professionals understand that environment can play a significant role in treatment. When a person enters a reputable mental hospital such as Peachtree Wellness Solutions, they should know they are in a place where they can relax and feel comfortable. 

You are not alone. You deserve to get help.

Peachtree Wellness is an industry leader in mental health treatment. Our team of top medical experts specialize in dual diagnosis treatment and are committed to ensuring that each patient is treated as an individual. Call us today, we’re available 24/7.

What Services Are Offered in a Mental Hospital?

In the psych ward vs. mental hospital debate, another reason why mental hospital is the preferred terminology relates to scope of services. 

  • When psych ward is used to describe one part of a hospital, this usually means that services are limited to short-term, high-intensity care that is designed to promote stabilization and a rapid transfer out of treatment.
  • If psych ward is used to describe an old-school mental health facility, this can refer to institutions where people stayed for years or even decades. In such a facility, care may primarily involve keeping a person stable instead of helping them make sustained progress toward improved health.

Describing a facility as a mental hospital indicates that clients or patients can receive quality clinical services via a variety of programs. For example, adults who get help at Peachtree Wellness Solutions may participate in treatment at one or more of the following levels:

  • Residential treatment for mental health: At this level, clients live at our hospital while they are receiving treatment. Residential programming includes full days of treatment, nutritious meals, structured leisure activities, and round-the-clock support.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): Our PHP is similar to our residential program, but clients only need to be at the facility when treatment is in session. After treatment has ended for the day, or on days when no treatment is scheduled, clients can return to their homes or to a supported residence.
  • Intensive outpatient program Atlanta (IOP): At the IOP level, clients have additional flexibility and greater opportunities for independent living. They may participate in treatment for a few hours per day, a few days per week. The rest of the time, they can work, attend school, and take part in other aspects of a healthy life.

What Are the Benefits of a Mental Hospital?

The specific benefits that any person receives from a mental hospital will depend on several individual factors. In general, though, the most people who are treated in mental hospitals can expect to benefit from features such as the following:

  • Personalized care: An effective mental hospital will customize their services according to each person’s unique needs. 
  • Comprehensive support: At all levels, clients at mental hospitals can benefit from an informed approach to treatment that understands how mental illness can impact all aspects of their life.
  • Scope of services: Most mental hospitals offer individual, group, and family therapy. At Peachtree Wellness Solutions, we also provide services such as genetic testing, Spravato treatment, neurofeedback therapy, red light therapy, and biosound therapy.

Begin Mental Health Treatment in Atlanta, GA

If you or someone that you care about can benefit from personalized mental health treatment in a safe and welcoming environment, Peachtree Wellness Solutions is here to help. At our mental health hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, adults receive customized care and compassionate support from a team of skilled and dedicated professionals. Give us a call or visit our admissions page today to learn more.