High Focus Centers

Name of Facility: High Focus Centers

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Cranford, NJ, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Description of Experience: High Focus provided me with many many techniques on coping skills and mindfulness practice. I don’t give it 5 stars because the clinicians can range in being really helpful/positive/supportive to being very negative/unsupportive. During my time there I witnessed several clinicians deny their patients arguments and feelings. The MHAs and Van Drivers are often very polite and know how to help kids out. They have school sessions included in their day-to-day treatment schedules. I think there are several situations some of the clinicians are just unprepared for.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): Partial Day (PHP) & Intensive Outpatient (IOP)

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2016-2017

Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital

Name of Facility: Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Hoffman Estates, IL, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: I was forced into the Alexian Brothers “school refusal” program during my sophomore year of high school after missing too much school because my parents were keeping me home to hide evidence that I was being physically abused and then claiming that I was the one refusing to go because I was “too anxious” to go to school. One of the biggest red flags is that no one involved in the Alexian Brothers program questioned their version of events. No one asked me what my reasons were for missing school. Furthermore, even though my parents claimed I was skipping school because of anxiety, I was never treated as a patient with anxiety, but was instead essentially treated as a “difficult” child with “behavior problems” who was just refusing to go to school for no reason.

Every kid in the program was constantly belittled by the staff. Our feelings and thoughts didn’t matter. We were continually told that we were the source of problems and upheaval in our families, and if we tried to argue, we were told to shut up.

Patients in my program as well as in others kept “in line” with how the staff wanted us to behave with the threat of being moved to inpatient programs or having their time in the outpatient program extended. Because this was a program for teenagers, we were told we had no rights whatsoever and the staff could decide to do what they wanted with us. For those of us in the “school refusal” program, we were told our parents wouldn’t care because we were so difficult they’d be glad to be rid of us. Police were called on patients who were late or who missed a day of the program, and those patients could be forced into inpatient treatment. Again, we were all teenagers, so most of us were dependent on parents for transportation and it didn’t matter if being late wasn’t our fault.

The most important thing I can say about Alexian Brothers is this: I was not suicidal when I went in. I was suicidal when I came out.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): outpatient

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I’m autistic and was being severely abused at home.

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2009

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

Name of Hospital: Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Partial Hospitalization Program

City, State/Province, Country: Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Number of Stars: 4

Comment: I spent four days attending Pine Rest’s partial hospitalization program, and overall it was a positive experience. There was lots of tea/real coffee available in the lounge, the classes were helpful, and the case managers who ran group therapy sessions were really good.

The psychiatrist was very knowledgeable about different treatment options, but he was also pretty crotchety. One thing I appreciate is that the PHP is considered a backup and if you can’t find an outpatient psychiatrist to write refills, they’ll call in refills for you.

Pine Rest is not subtle about the Christian aspect: there’s Christian inspirational posters, Bibles, and Christian pamphlets everywhere. This was pretty off-putting for me (I’m Jewish) and I think that this will deter people in the area from receiving care.

The food in the cafeteria is good, but after the first day (you get a meal ticket the first day) you have to pay for all meals yourself.

The discharge planner did some legwork on my behalf after my discharge when I was having difficulties coordinating my outpatient care, which I appreciated.

Overall, it’s a program I’d recommend, but I wish Pine Rest would dial back the Jesus stuff by ten percent.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Jewish

Year(s) : April 2017

Sheppard Pratt Hospital

Name of Hospital: Sheppard Pratt Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Towson, MD, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: I showed up at Sheppard-Pratt in crisis (depression, anxiety, eating disorder, suicidal ideations). Waiting room was impersonal and cold, and I nearly broke down and fled while waiting in the crisis center. But once I saw a nurse, she saw how bad off I was and called a doctor immediately. When (between sobs) I made it clear that I had no insurance and no money, they waived the crisis center referral fee and immediately referred me to the Resident Outpatient Program. $5/half hour to see a last-year psych resident who could prescribe medications. It was a literal lifesaver in my case – I guarantee I’d be dead without it.

I kept going to the ROP for about two and a half years until I moved out of state and though having the psych docs cycling once a year sucked, they were all fairly solid. They were also forgiving about payment, accepting payment in spare change and/or late when necessary. When I moved, my ROP therapist went out of her way attempting to find a similar program in Cincinnati to no avail.

That said, I’ve had a friend involuntarily referred to the inpatient program here back in the 90s and it literally left her with PTSD. Though my experience was excellent, other people’s may not be (especially PoC – I’m white, and that may be why I had a good experience and my friend did not).

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Female, Bisexual

Year(s) : 2010-2012

Canyon Ridge Hospital

Name of Hospital: Canyon Ridge Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Chino, California, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: The nirses were kind and attentive, the food was decently good, and they did a good job keeping up with cleaning. Some drawbacks included being understaffed (one florr staff for 19 people more than once), and that the nurse-led groups didn’t always happen, as well as geoups on the weekend. The partial hospitalization and outpatient groups operate together with the only difference the number of times a week. The outpatient is a good program as well, with a lot of good therapists that one can get to know better.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient, partial hospitalization, and outpatient

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: I am transgender and pansexual. The hospital asked my sexual orientation during one evaluation (which was something I believe each patient was asked). I didn’t notice anything discriminatory. I wasn’t open to the staff about my gender and sexual orientation, but I feel like I could have been.

Baycare Behavioral Health

Name of Hospital: Baycare Behavioral Health

City, State/Province, Country: Brooksville, Florida, USA

Number of Stars: 2

Comment: I was in here as a teen. Most of the other patients there were teenagers with a few younger kids. There was one group counseling session a day for an hour, the guy was nice but nobody made any progress. We had an hour of indoor gym time with therapeutic activities included, which was truly the highlight of my experience, because then you could talk to the other patients and have the freedom to move around.

Outside of that, there was family counseling that some people were chosen for (myself included) and that was a little more helpful; it was the same therapist from the group session and he was really kind. The other staff, the nurses that spent the whole day with us, were impatient and uncaring.

Outside of therapy the day consisted of watching TV and, if you were lucky and a nurse was feeling generous, coloring. We weren’t allowed to walk around or stand, we had to stay seated, and we had to ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. If we took too long doing those things they wouldn’t let us get up for the rest of the day. If you talked to the person next to you, they would move one of you to the other side of the room.

Trying to find support from anyone besides your roommate meant getting yelled at about how you’re not there to gossip and make friends. The therapists were wonderful but we saw so little of them that it didn’t make up for the verbally abusive and rude nurses. As far as the head doctor goes, you saw him for maybe five minutes every day and he would ask 1-2 questions before sending you off.

Being in there made me worse off than I was because I became desperate for the freedom to stand, walk around, and get some fresh air. There was no outdoor time and the windows had blinds behind glass or were facing walls. The best I could do was sit on the floor in my room and look through the slits of the blinds to see a tree outside the window. When I got out, I swore to myself that I would never tell someone I was suicidal or hurt myself if I thought I’d get sent there again. It made me hide those thoughts and feelings out of fear of having to go back.

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

Western Psychiatric Bellefield Clinic

Name of Hospital: Western Psychiatric Bellefield Clinic

City, State/Province, Country: Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: I was in an outpatient program that included group therapy, personal therapy, and personal psychiatric consultations. The staff were very attentive and the therapy was very engaging and organized. They handled the group sessions fairly well even when frictions occurred between group members; I was in an all-female group, which was much more comfortable for me than a co-ed group.

The hospital offered several options for therapy (single gender, mixed, different tiers of care so that you could adjust to more or less time in the hospital as needed). The psychiatrist was more distant but still listened very well; they took my concerns about medication seriously and were very clear about why specific medications were chosen for me, including side-effects, risk of addiction, etc.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Intensive outpatient (9 hours/week)

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Ciswoman in an all-female program