The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center

Name of Hospital: The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center

City, State/Province, Country: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: I stayed at the Royal Ottawa twice, once for almost four months, the second time for just over 5 weeks. I was in the youth inpatient unit, so my review will be about that particular section of the hospital. The youth inpatient unit in The Royal is a secure unit for youth 16 and over with serious psychiatric conditions. I found it a very scary environment to be introduced to, as it is primarily an adult hospital, and I was only 15. The youth unit was somewhat friendlier, and my room was very nice, clean, and private. I had quite a few issues with my stay at The Royal, however.

Daily programming was erratic, and the rules of the unit were inconsistently enforced. A lot of groups were cancelled, or were lead by group discussion instead of by a facilitator. Daily medication was mostly voluntary, but the staff would always check if you took it. However, if a patient seemed upset, or the staff decided they were “causing a scene” you could be restrained, put in an isolation room, or involuntarily sedated via injection. I know that a lot of the other patients and I were in constant fear of being sedated if we showed too much emotion, such as crying too loudly, or arguing with staff. Someone was forcibly sedated almost everyday, and there was constant screaming and crying.

After a breakdown, I was confined to my room for two weeks wearing nothing but underwear and a paper dress, in an empty room with just a bare mattress and a blanket. I felt humiliated and dehumanized by staff and doctors. One staff member in particular was very abusive toward me, making cruel comments about my self-harm scars, and my weight. She convinced my doctor that I was faking symptoms and “being manipulative” because I wanted attention.

My doctor never listened to what I had to say about my symptoms, and would tell me that I was lying. She would threaten me by saying that if I didn’t stop “acting up” and “being dramatic” she would put me in a group home. She would also tell me that if I didn’t stop hurting/trying to kill myself she would just “send me home to die, because I obviously didn’t want help.” I was also sexually assaulted by another patient during my stay, and the staff refused to believe me. The food was horrible, almost inedible, and the staff didn’t care if you skipped meals. I left the hospital malnourished because I was too depressed to eat.

They discharged me without my consent, and against my parents wishes. My parents and I begged them not to send me home, because I knew I wouldn’t be safe there, but they refused to listen. I attempted suicide 3 days after I left the hospital, and ended up back on unit in a few weeks.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: I’m a white lesbian, and my doctor outed me to my parents without my consent.

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