Day Hospital Treatment for Mental Health and Eating Disorders
A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an option for those struggling with an eating disorder whose health status doesn’t necessitate an inpatient hospitalization, but still need a higher level of care. Medical experts may also call partial hospitalization programs “day hospitals”. Sometimes, a person will choose a PHP after they completed an inpatient hospitalization or residential treatment program.
A partial hospitalization program is a good fit for a person who fits the statements:
- I feel like I need to be monitored closely during the day and also need help and support for my meals.
- I have tried outpatient care before, and I have relapsed with my eating disorder and/or mental illness.
- I am currently medically stable.
- I have just completed an inpatient hospitalization stay and would like further support.
- I have a supportive family or other social support system where I can stay at night.
Some of the key aspects of a PHP may include eating two supervised meals and snacks daily, participating in nutritional counseling, and participating in individual and group therapy sessions. The behavioral health approaches used in counseling will often depend upon the facility type providing care. If a minor is participating in this type of care, a person’s parents may also participate in therapy sessions for about 10 to 15 hours out of the week.
Does PHP Take Place at a Hospital?
A partial hospitalization program does not usually take place at a hospital, unless the hospital also has day programs as a part of its care offerings. This may be the case with some larger, academic facilities. For the most part, partial hospitalization programs will take place at a treatment facility.
How Long Does a PHP Program Last?
Partial hospitalization programs can vary in length based on the center providing care and a person’s unique needs. A person may attend the program anywhere from five to seven days a week for a time period of 6 to 10 hours a day. Some people may participate for two weeks while others may choose to continue in the program for many weeks. A person can ask their intake counselor about how long they may expect to stay in the partial hospitalization program, all with the knowledge that they could require more or less time depending upon their progress.
The intake process is often the first meeting between a center’s medical professionals and a person struggling with an eating disorder and mental health condition. If a person is a minor, their family may also participate in the intake process. While the order may vary based on the individual’s center’s policies, here are some of the steps that will occur during an intake process.
- Assessing the Degree of Malnutrition – Knowing the level of malnutrition is important for a person because those who are less than 70 percent of the expected body mass index (BMI) for their height and weight are severely malnourished. They will need care at a medical facility until they can achieve a healthier weight.
- Identifying Eating Attitudes and Behaviors – An intake specialist will also identify a person’s patterns of behaviors and attitudes toward eating. They will ask about their history of dieting, exercise levels, if they binge or vomit, if they have used diuretics or laxatives as means to lose weight, and how a person feels about their weight and body overall.
- Medical Health Assessment – An eating disorder can affect a person in many ways. Lack of food or chronic vomiting can lead to electrolyte losses. These can impact a person’s muscles and heart rhythms, sometimes causing bradycardia or a slowed heart rate. Sometimes, a person may experience impaired sexual development, such as failure to start a period. A doctor will also consider any psychiatric and chronic medical health conditions, such as diabetes.
These are just some of the examples of the intake process. While it can be understandably difficult to talk about a person’s history of eating patterns and mental health struggles, being as honest as possible is vital to helping an intake coordinator develop the best possible program.
How Can I Make My Treatment a Success?
Being willing to seek and accept care is a major step toward making treatment a success. It’s important that a person approach eating disorder treatment with an open mind and a willingness to explore treatment. It’s important the person remember those at the treatment facility are medical professionals with specialized training in helping people struggling with eating disorders. A person can ask questions, participate in treatment sessions, and try to engage in behaviors they are learning that are healthy.
However, sometimes a program isn’t the right fit. When this is the case, a person can explore other alternatives, all with the goal of helping them achieve better health.
Partial Hospitalization Programs for Recovery
Partial hospitalization programs are effective ways for a person to seek treatment when they struggle with an eating disorder. They can be a cost-effective alternative for a person who is medically stable enough not to require inpatient care. A person can contact eating disorder treatment centers and participate in the intake process to determine if the partial hospitalization option is the best fit for them. Through participation in the several weeks-long program that often incorporates family therapy, a person can learn more about how their disorder affects them and healthy behaviors that can help them develop a healthier relationship with food.
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