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Outpatient Mental Health Care 2023: Definition, Types & Benefits
Life can be hard, and if you or someone you know struggles with mental health issues, it’s time to consider mental health treatment options.
Reaching out may feel intimidating, but know that you are not alone. Millions of people invest their time and energy into optimizing their mental health. Finding someone to help you through your struggle shows strength and knowledge about the self-care it takes to live a healthy life.
There are outpatient mental health services to teach you coping skills for many different conditions. Getting help doesn’t have to mean leaving your home, your family, or your job behind. Many people choose the option of outpatient vs inpatient mental health therapy to achieve their health goals.
Whether you’re looking to have a depression screening, online counseling for your kids, or group therapy meetings, there’s a type of outpatient mental health care within reach to meet your needs.
What is Outpatient Mental Health Treatment?
Outpatient mental health treatment provides help to those who are experiencing symptoms of mental illness.
It can include all of the care a person would get from mental health professionals in an inpatient treatment facility but without an overnight stay. This is for those who are stable enough to still live independently.
Some people have businesses and other responsibilities they cannot just up and leave for weeks or months at a time. Outpatient services help make it possible for them to still get the treatment they need while continuing to go to work and be with the people they love.
These services are also in place as a support system to assist those transitioning out of an inpatient program back into their day-to-day life.
Although the types of outpatient treatment programs vary, most include
- medication management
- individual therapy
- family therapy
- group therapy
In this outpatient setting, you’ll get to develop a customized treatment plan to help yourself succeed after treatment is over. There is the option of follow-up care to help keep you accountable for the changes you want to make.
Some need behavioral health services to change behaviors that are causing problems and to teach the patient how to develop and stick to better behaviors.
You can find an outpatient mental health program for several different problems including
- Anxiety disorders
- Autism Spectrum Disorder ( ASD) and Asperger’s Syndrome
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Mood disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Personality disorders including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Substance use disorders
Make sure to ask as many questions as you need about treatment options before selecting outpatient services. Finding a treatment center you can commit to will help further your treatment success.
Types of Outpatient Mental Health Programs
Knowing the types of outpatient treatment out there will help you choose one of the outpatient mental health programs that fit your life best.
Around 40% of mental health treatment facilities are outpatient, and there are over 9,000 to choose from in the United States. Many of these services are covered through health care insurance, and some accept self-pay patients.
Standard Outpatient Treatment Program
A standard outpatient program includes regular visits for therapy sessions to the treatment center, clinic, or hospital. These appointments are scheduled around your life responsibilities like work and school.
This may include short-term counseling or up to more than a year of weekly therapy. Depending on the individual treatment plan your appointments for outpatient therapy may be more than once a week.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
If a standard outpatient treatment program does not help or if there comes a time when symptoms increase causing distress, then IOP offers extra treatment. This can look like 3-4 hours a day of structured therapy up to 5 days a week.
The increased support system is set up to foster complete success in managing your symptoms. This type of outpatient program is usually a minimum of 90 days.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
PHP is in place to prevent patients from having to go to an inpatient program or be hospitalized. Individuals coming out of inpatient programs also benefit from the supervised support this type of outpatient program provides.
This involves structured treatment up to 7 days a week, for 6 or more hours a day. Programs are usually 30 days until the patient moves into a more flexible program.
988 is a national 24-hour hotline that will connect individuals with mental health crises and suicide prevention resources. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or think you have a mental illness all you have to do is text or dial 988 to speak with a crisis counselor. Option 1 is specific to the veteran’s crisis hotline.
Benefits of Outpatient Therapy
During outpatient treatment, patients spend structured time during the day or in the evening with their outpatient mental health therapist or counselor, up to several times a week.
This doesn’t just involve talking, although that’s a big part of it. Let’s discuss the benefits of outpatient programs to give you a better idea of what to expect.
Outpatient mental health treatment aims to manage symptoms, overcome fears, and develop communication skills needed in daily life.
Helping patients identify triggers that cause symptom exacerbation is an important part of mental health services and can be done in an outpatient setting.
There are outpatient treatment programs that include holistic physical and expressive therapies like yoga, music and movement therapy, and art therapy led by certified therapists for mental health care.
Developing boundaries and self-management tools can enable you to build a life that can help aid in your long-term recovery. Outpatient therapy is there to help you create a strong support system to accomplish learning these skills.
Online Mental Health Programs
Another type of outpatient therapy available is online where you can have convenient virtual meetings. These are discreet enough that you can privately get help if that’s important to you.
Many patients opt for a COVID-safe treatment service like Talkspace which has video, text, and audio therapy session options.
Here is a link listing some of the best online therapy programs available in 2022. Some online companies even accept insurance.
If you’re struggling in your mother-daughter relationship here are some great online resources you can reach out to.
Outpatient vs. Inpatient Mental Health Treatment
When it comes to mental health, outpatient vs inpatient, there are several differences. Many outpatient programs are less expensive than inpatient.
If someone chooses outpatient treatment they usually have the motivation to learn and improve their condition before it gets too much to handle on their own. They should be willing to verbally express their thoughts and feelings to licensed professionals honestly for the best care possible.
Inpatient programs are usually for people who are a danger to themselves and others or are so sick that they cannot function normally enough to be on their own. At that point, it’s more about keeping them and others safe than it is about getting them to open up about their feelings.
Those who are experiencing psychotic episodes, hearing voices, or having suicidal thoughts and attempts are usually hospitalized so that treatment outcomes can be monitored around the clock.
Inpatient treatment can include IV therapy, 24-hour testing, monitoring, supervised care, and counseling.
Whether you choose inpatient services or outpatient mental health treatment the time invested in yourself is worth it. Seeking out licensed professionals to help you form a support system that suits you as an individual has never been easier.
With the right outpatient psychiatric treatment, you will improve your problem-solving skills, develop self-awareness, and set healthy boundaries to live your best life.
+ 4 sources
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- National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS): 2018 Data on Mental Health Treatment Facilities. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NMHSS-2018.pdf.
- Statista. (2020). Mental health facilities number by service setting U.S. 2020 | Statista. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/450277/mental-health-facilities-in-the-us-by-service-type/
- 988lifeline.org. (2022). Home. [online] Available at: https://988lifeline.org/
- Meshkat, S., Rodrigues, N.B., Di Vincenzo, J.D., Ceban, F., Jaberi, S., McIntyre, R.S., Lui, L.M.W. and Rosenblat, J.D. (2022). Pharmacogenomics of ketamine: A systematic review. Journal of Psychiatric Research, [online] 145, pp.27–34. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.11.036