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Not knowing what to do can be scary and confusing. But there are many things you can do to support your loved one.
First, take steps to learn about what you are seeing. Ask questions to learn:
If you’ve found that your loved one needs help, learn about levels of care for mental health or drug abuse issues.
Levels of Care are the types of health care offered based on the patient’s symptoms.
An acute inpatient hospital is for someone:
These hospitals are the most intensive and restrictive. They give 24-hour care. That includes handling medicines, detox and rehab.
But what if they aren’t in crisis but need around-the-clock supervision and structure?They could seek care at a Residential Treatment Center (RTC).
RTCs offer healing care and special programs in a controlled setting. RTCs have 24-hour nursing help and doctors on call. They are for people with long-term or grave mental issues. They also help people with alcohol and other substance abuse problems. RTCs offer a high degree of safety, supervision and structure. They promote healthy habits as well as successful stabilization, detox and rehab.
Some people may go to a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). It is not a residential program with 24-hour supervision, but it involves intense clinical health care similar to inpatient care.
Often, these programs are every day for at least five hours a day. These programs are highly structured to offer a safe setting. This level of care also gives in-home support or access by phone for after-hours help.
What if the person is working or in school full time?Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are less restrictive. They use group therapy to help people learn skills to handle their condition. The programs take place three days each week for at least two hours a day. That allows people to get care without neglecting daily duties. An individualized care plan in this type of program may help even if other programs were not successful.
Can less frequent care still be helpful?Outpatient (OP) care can take place in an office. OP may be one-on-one, family or group care. It can involve psychotherapy and consultative care. Visits range from 15 minutes for help with medicines to 50 minutes for a single therapy visit. Group therapy may be up to two hours. Visits are often done once a week or more often, if needed.
Your loved one may see different types of caregivers in any of these levels of care.
Advanced Psychiatric Nurse (APRN)
Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
Physician Assistant (PA)
Master's Level Behavioral Health Care Provider
Originally published December 28, 2018; Revised 2020
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