Have you ever visited a mental institution in real? No… So how do you picture it in your mind?
A dark dingy place… with lack of basic amenities… rude people who care a darn about you… Really???
You must visit a place to know it… I would rather say it this way…
An open serene place, close to nature, homely, people well spoken and very caring…
Here are a few things I have observed that movies don’t tell us about mental institutions
Difficulty in diagnosis
In movies, it normally takes one meeting with a psychiatrist/ psychologist to diagnose the mental disorder. However, in real life, it is way different. It takes an in detail case history, psychiatric evaluation, psychometric assessment… and sometimes this too isn’t enough.
There have been a few cases where one starts with a diagnosis of depression, later observe a period of mania and eventually got diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Punishments aren’t that bad
Excessively drugged patients or bound to a room – isn’t how patients are treated in real. It may be used only in extreme cases (where the patient is violent or chances of harm to self or others).
Mostly, the institution tries that if there are chances of danger, there is a care-taker who checks on them every half hour or 15 minutes or may even be with them. However, their privacy is maintained. Patients are not left in rooms without food, water or essential needs – like shown in movies. And not checked on for a long time.
Treatment isn’t cruel
While shown in some of the Bollywood movies, the treatment for mental illness is quiet disturbing. Not everyone is given an overdose of medication… Not everyone has to go through ECT/ Shock therapy. There are many novel and widespread holistic methods that aid the treatment of mental illness.
Stay at the institution
No one can just choose to be in the institution. There is a thorough psychiatric evaluation that a person undergoes and then there is decision made whether you need to stay at the institution or not. Only some of the treatments are involuntary – mostly where there is a total lack of insight to the illness. And with advance in treatments, there is an increase in shorter stays when the patients are functional in nature and there is a better understanding of the illness.
It isn’t anything like jail
You will not have to wearing hospital gowns or uniforms, walking barefoot and living in a room that barely anything. One is allowed to carry their own things – clothes, toiletries, accessories and things you need. You can bring books you like, and food from home or packaged items. However, you may not be allowed to carry expensive items, money or mobile – for safety reasons of course.