Fairmount Behavioral Health

Name of Facility: Fairmount Behavioral Health

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Philadelphia, PA, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Description of Experience: I was voluntarily admitted for suicidality. The schedule lists group therapy multiple times a day but we only had actual therapy 3-4 times during my 8-day stay. Half of those times, therapy revolved around the 12-step addiction recovery model, which wasn’t helpful to me and the other patients without a history of addiction. (This was because the therapists were borrowed from the dual diagnosis unit and didn’t adapt their sessions.)

Almost every day a ‘therapy’ session would be held where a psych tech would monologue for 45-75min about what he thought about life. Once I left because he was bemoaning that spanking children was no longer ‘pc’ and insisting that more spanking would improve mental health. Physically harming children is a trigger for me, but I was told by another tech that I couldn’t leave the session. On other occasions the monologue was religious Christian in nature.

They have 2-person rooms divided by gender but the unit is coed. When a male patient verbally sexually harassed me nothing was done about it. Homophobic statements were made to me and a young gay man on the unit, especially after my partner visited. The rooms were okay – you can’t close the door, which is to be expected, and the bathroom was sectioned off by a curtain that ended a few inches below my knees.

I arrived with only the clothes I was wearing, and I was given a wrap-around gown with a loop so it didn’t have ties (no laces or strings on the unit) and I never could figure out how to get it on, so I stayed in those clothes for another day until my partner could bring me more (visiting hours were 3 times a week). Underwire bras were also banned from the unit, and since I need an underwire for adequate support I was frequently in pain.

I spoke to a doctor twice, the day after the night I was admitted and the day before I was discharged. I begged to see the doctor sooner because the new medication was helping and I wanted to leave, but he was rarely on the unit. The medication change was helpful though and I’m still taking that med. The cafeteria staff were also flexible in adapting to my dietary needs.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Lesbian Jewish woman

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

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

Name of Facility: Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

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

Number of Stars: 1.5

Description of Experience: I’ve been to this hospital twice, once in 2014 and again in 2017.

When I was admitted in 2014, I was 17 and a senior in high school, so I was on the adolescent floor. I was admitted for a suicide attempt. The stay mostly consisted of group therapy sessions. The staff facilitating these sessions were extremely unprofessional; in one particular session I was discussing why I was being hospitalized (which had a lot to do with how poorly my high school handled my mental health issues) and I was repeatedly told it was my fault that I was depressed and suicidal to the point where I was sobbing.

I meet with my psychiatrist only twice, once the morning after I was admitted and again about 2 days before I was released to evaluate my mental state. Both meetings were extremely short.

I was admitted again in October 2017, this time as an adult, for suicidal ideation. Despite my bad experience with this hospital before, I returned to Lakeshore because of its LGBT program. This program amounted to absolutely nothing. I requested to be put in one of the rooms designated for the LGBT program but was not, even though the rooms were open. There were no LGBT-specific therapy sessions or groups. I requested to be referred to by certain pronouns, but they hardly, if ever, happened.

The ward was mostly occupied by substance abuse patients. They mental health and substance abuse patients are in separate wings, but there were so many substance abuse patients that they had to be placed in the mental health wing. Most of the group sessions focused on substance abuse. While I understand this completely, it did result in most of my time being spent in the dayroom reading or watching TV.

The sessions I did participate in were fine. Usually it was sitting in a circle in the dayroom and talking. There was an art therapy session that I enjoyed a lot. I wish there were more things like that.

You have to be cleared for most things, including going down to the cafeteria for lunch/dinner (as opposed to it being taken up to you). Unfortunately, your social worker probably won’t get around to that until your stay is basically over. You hardly ever actually see your social worker unless you basically demand it. I had to see my social worker to get things sorted out with my school. I already had a lot on file with my disability resource center, so that was relatively painless.

All in all, this hospital met the bare minimum of not allowing me to kill myself on their watch. It didn’t do too much beyond that.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Lesbian and non-binary

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2014, 2017

Bodmin Community Hospital – Fletcher Ward

Name of Facility: Bodmin Community Hospital – Fletcher Ward

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Bodmin Cornwall UK

Number of Stars: 1.5

Description of Experience: On arrival I saw that both staff and patients looked terrified but patients more so. One patient I knew from the town where I lived. Other patients I recognised from my stay 3 months earlier. One patient from my first stay was still ill like the last time. They don’t treat any physical health problems here, they don’t even investigate.

The only outside space was the smoking courtyard, a glass box in middle of ward, floor covered with cigarette ends and vomit from the poor lady whose physical condition had worsened. I phoned the police reporting the abuse on the ward. Another patient also phoned, this patient said he was threatened with being killed by staff if he phoned the police again. I was forced to drink a cup of water with medication I wasn’t prescribed in it. I reckon I’m lucky to survive those side effects which they say I didn’t have.

There had been a large outside space but it was closed for landscaping. The courtyard was approximately 3 meters square. The staff liked to be vindictive and ignored patients. Hot drinks were only allowed at set times and provided in large jugs, one of tea and one of hot water.

The only saving grace for this ward was a occupational therapist who tried her best but the culture was bad. All patients were treated with fear and distrust.

I’ve since obtained my medical records relating to this stay I was bowled over by the factually incorrect information. (Me and another patient being over the top polite asking for the courtyard to be opened 10 minutes before 6am were classed as offensive – saying please is offensive?!)

Risk management was centred around aggression not self harm. Chairs which could be thrown removed at night but Christmas Tree had glass bubbles and a long string of electric fairy lights. The Christmas Tree was never removed at night.

The other ward in Cornwall is actually quite good.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I’d complained and have long history of contact with MH services

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

San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital

Name of Hospital: San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: San Antonio, TX, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: This hospital is outdated and operating like lock-ups of the 70’s. The disrespect the clients discipline for not taking meds, even when someone voluntarily goes there. They keep family away from the patients as well, withholding visitation when behaviors don’t meet their idea of compliance, when it’s the family (and close friends) who are much more likely to know the needs of the patient and help calm them. STAY AWAY!

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): 72 hour hold, inpatient, short-term program

Year(s) : 2015

Holly Hill Hospital

Name of Hospital: Holly Hill Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Raleigh, NC, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: Went there three times in my life.

Nurses would talk down to and insult patients, gossip about them at the front desk. Doctors would use excessive force and discourage peer support. Staff cannot take criticism and it is a major downfall. Was in one unit that had to be put on lockdown at one point because staff couldn’t effectively deal with a fight and patients started getting upset with them, so staff shoved them into walls and sedated them and locked us all in our rooms. Victim blaming is commonplace.

One nurse told me after another patient had vandalized my belongings that some people have worse problems than me. I was neglected in crisis while staff at the front desk watched me and did nothing. Disciplinary action is often given to the victims for being hurt, not to the ones who hurt them. I was once “disciplined” for having a psychotic episode, and also dealt with early stage selective mutism that they couldn’t recognize so instead resorted immediately to “quit lying to us” and were very hostile to me. It seemed like the default opinion was “the patient is being uncooperative on purpose and/or lying” until proven otherwise, and to prove otherwise you had to be in crisis practically 24/7, which presented its own problems.

None of the group therapy sessions were relevant and there wasn’t really any one-on-one therapy. You got put on medication and if it didn’t help they put you on more. No one was allowed to not be on medication. If you weren’t on medication when you came you would be put on something; if you were you’d probably have your prescription upped or altered even if it didn’t make any sense. I was on many meds that I didn’t even need and which made me feel even worse but they wouldn’t let me off of them. Was even refused accommodation when I couldn’t take them due to a swallowing disorder and the med administrator immediately blamed me and withheld them and would not let me try again until I begged.

They had a minimum few days that someone could be there before being released but people were always kept longer. Each time I was there for over a week, sometimes almost two; didn’t matter if you were doing fine. Despite this there seemed to be a pretty high turnover rate. Was once moved units and the room I was put in was excessively hot, had no door on the bathroom, and provided sheeting that could be considered minimal even for most hospitals. Heard reports both while I was there and after I left of sexual assault. Some staff asked me invasive and sexual questions, and during at least one admission strip search I was encouraged to show more than necessary.

I wasn’t informed of any diagnosis I was given throughout the entire stay or even after I left, found out years later that they’d not only completely misdiagnosed me but had included a disorder for me being blunt about the mistreatment (which fueled and validated further abuse as I remained in an out-patient psych system for the next few years). Ward sides with abusive family members over struggling patients anyday.

The few good things I can say are that the food is great, it’s generally pretty clean, and the outdoor areas are roomy, but I don’t remember going outside as much in the second unit I was switched to (from younger adolescent to older teen unit). There’s also a lot of opportunity for peer support since you have a bunch of people in one unit and lots of free time, but obviously whoever your co-patients are is a gamble.

I wouldn’t ever recommend voluntarily admitting yourself here unless you don’t mind being forced on medication and having little to do, but if you have to go I’d say try your luck with the others before you fully confide in any of the staff. It’s been maybe two or three years since I went but from what I know a lot of the same people still work there, and the negative attitudes that reign don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Staff assumed cis girl, Not openly LGBTQ+ when I went

Year(s) : 2013/2014

Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital

Name of Hospital: Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital (UCLA)

City, State/Province, Country: Los Angeles, California, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: I was admitted voluntarily (with a 72hr hold) for suicidal ideation when I was a minor.

The floor staff was intensely controlling, as well as manipulative to serve that end (attaining a “controlled environment”). The nurses openly refused rights, even ones that were listed on the walls, and would deliberately ignore patients’ concerns, often acting in complete, unapologetic opposition to them. In a sweeping and general sense, the ward was watched over like a kindergarten classroom, differences being they did everything they could to hear every conversation and every word between patients, there was a much higher supervisor-to-peer ratio, and most of the medical staff seemed to avidly dislike the patients.


10% of nurses – were capable and respectful
90% of nurses – were severely incapable and disrespectful

The psychiatrists I saw were mostly annoyed with the fact they worked there in the first place, which for the patients means apathy and unwillingness to help. The head psychiatrist outright did not believe I should have ever been in the hospital the first place. They pressured me into taking medications (as well as to increase my dosages once on it), when at the time, I did not want to. I reacted negatively to every drug they had me try with only a single exception. I wasn’t allowed to switch doctors, and the one I was stuck with and I both agreed his skillset did not match what I was in need of. The standard patient timeline, as far as their psychiatrists seemed to care was: Get in, take the drugs, then to get out as soon as possible.
The social workers were extremely reluctant to do anything for anyone. Their power seemed to be limited heavily by doctor’s opinions and decisions. The staff members that were not doctors or nurses (i.e. their music teacher, art room directors, etc.) were for the most part, kind, understanding, and respectful to the patients.)

There was deck time (“outside”) and it was listed as a right and treated as a privilege . The food was better than average as far as hospitals go. There was a day room/dining room, a hallway, and five or six rooms, all constantly monitored. There was a small fitness room, an art room, a music teacher and a recreation coordinator. Most of the time on the ward is spent in the dayroom with the staff doing mindfulness exercises (there were CBT exercises or other non-mindfulness related activities, though mindfulness is their core philosophy.

I personally view this as negative, because mindfulness, there, was not a word in its own right, but had become a simplistic way of writing off any issues the patients had involving their own brains. (i.e. If a patient states they feel they might have a panic attack if they continue with one of the activities for that day, the nurses would say something like “Just be mindful of the things around you, focus on your breathing; you’ll feel better,” and often refuse to accept an alternative solution, or even that the patient might not have enough or even any power over their mental state.)

Facilities, food, nonmedical aspects – 1 out of 1 stars.
Overall healthcare – 0.5 out of 4 stars
TOTAL=1.5 out of 5 stars

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: being under 18 seemed to allow the staff to, easily, restrict my rights and ignore my concerns

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Dominion Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, VA, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: UGH.

I was admitted voluntarily to Dominion Hospital after a suicide attempt, and stayed there for a week. They basically did nothing right. To begin with, I never saw a therapist. The psychiatrist I saw for five minutes once a day, in which time he decided that I was lying about the cat scratches on my arms (I have an aggressive cat) and that they must be self-harm, therefore all of my previous diagnoses were incorrect and I was bipolar. He then, despite my protests that I had hypersomnia when in a place that I could sleep, put me on Seroquel. I ended up having to stop taking it because otherwise I couldn’t get up for work.

Sleeping was nearly impossible. Night staff would come clomping into the room with flashlights and wake me up every fifteen minutes. There was a light shining directly in my eyes, and when I tried to put the pillow over my eyes to block it out , they woke me up to make me take it off. I brought a comfort pillow and a comfort stuffed animal and was told that I could keep them, but two days into my stay they vanished from my room, and I was told I could not have them. Complaints from me and from my parents saw no results.

The food was nearly inedible, the groups were useless, and we were barely ever taken outside; I think I went outside for a collective hour during the entire time I was there (seven days). On top of anything else, my doctor refused to release me on a Friday so I could go to a program I had been looking forward to. He said he wanted to monitor me further, then promptly disappeared for the weekend and did not see me again until Monday morning, when he released me.

The hospital was dirty and worn down. The staff was dismissive and authoritarian. I was having an anxiety attack and was told that I was having a temper tantrum and that I had better stop or they wouldn’t let me out ever. I also tried to sign myself out AMA, but I was told that my parents would ask for a court order to keep me in the hospital if I did– my parents later told me this was a total lie. The only thing the hospital did for me was to get me into a post-hospital mental health care program, and rack up 10k in debt that I only managed to pay off by selling my car.

I will never, ever go to this hospital again. I will avoid psych wards as much as possible based on this experience. Don’t go here if you have any choice.

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

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

Year(s) : 2015