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The Different Levels of Mental Health Care

Are you or a loved one struggling with mental health issues? If so, it’s important to ensure you receive the appropriate care to address your needs and concerns. Four main levels of mental health care form the mental health continuum of care. This article will explore the four levels and discuss the conditions in which each is ideal.

Inpatient Psychiatric Care

Inpatient psychiatric care is the most intense level of care provided to individuals who are struggling with mental health issues. 

Inpatient psychiatric care may be voluntary, meaning the individual agrees to receive treatment from doctors and therapists. Alternatively, it can be the result of an intervention where an individual may not want to receive mental health support. 

Inpatient psychiatric treatment usually takes place in a designated wing of a hospital. However, it may also be an entirely separate building. The facility will typically not feel like a hospital at all. Instead, it may resemble something more akin to a dorm room. The facilities are designed to keep individuals struggling with mental health issues happy, comfortable, and–perhaps most importantly–safe.

Many people who require inpatient psychiatric care could pose a danger to themselves or others. This type of treatment is usually reserved for those who are experiencing severe symptoms. 

A therapist could recommend that you receive inpatient psychiatric care if your needs are too severe for typical therapy sessions. Your care might include treatment from a team of psychologists, social workers, nurses, art therapists, and more. Treatment will depend on your specific needs and symptoms.

Residential Treatment 

Residential treatment ensures that a patient is provided with 24/7 support. Like inpatient psychiatric care, clients are supervised around the clock. However, treatment is facilitated at a homey, live-in healthcare center instead of a hospital. Admission is generally voluntary.

Residential treatment is the second most intensive care solution. It is recommended for those who are continuing to work through the continuum of care. Residential treatment is an ideal option for those who have shown improvement in their condition after receiving inpatient psychiatric care.

It is often thought of as a midpoint between inpatient psychiatric care and more independent living conditions. Residential treatment is specifically designed to provide more interventions than a partial-hospitalization program.

At residential treatment centers, clients undergo a wide variety of therapeutic interventions, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), group therapy, and more. They also participate in activities that help improve their daily functionality and coping skills. The goal is to help clients confidently reintegrate into their communities.

Partial Hospitalization 

The third level of the continuum of care is partial hospitalization. Partial hospitalization is provided to patients after they have transitioned out of 24-hour treatment. 

At this point, clients are required to travel to and from their appointments independently. It’s critical that they are in the right state of mind to do this and have the appropriate support systems in place at home.

At this stage of treatment, clients live comfortably in their own homes instead of a hospital or live-in facility. However, if patients miss appointments or show signs that they are reverting to their old habits, a therapist may recommend that they receive either residential treatment or inpatient psychiatric support once again.

Also known as PHP, this form of treatment can support individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse. In some cases, clients will be required to attend appointments every day of the week. Appointments may last anywhere from four to eight hours. They are responsible for balancing their treatment with social commitments, family life, and other activities. 

This level of care is similar to residential treatment, but it allows patients to be near their families, friends, and partners while still pursuing a healthier life.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Also known as intensive outpatient treatment, this is the fourth and final level of the continuum of care. 

Intensive outpatient treatment is designed for individuals with symptoms that are mild but still need attention. Usually, this level of support will operate on a smaller scale, as it does not require the comprehensive support of larger facilities. For those who struggle with addiction, this type of treatment actively encourages individuals to engage in the 12-step recovery program. 

One of the greatest benefits of intensive outpatient treatment is that it allows clients to maintain their daily lives. They can seek support and receive treatment while they continue to work and spend time with their loved ones. This step is important, as it helps bridge the gap between full-time care and a client’s everyday life. 

Research demonstrates that individuals who leave residential treatment facilities or discontinue partial-hospitalization programs without a plan are more likely to retrogress. With intensive outpatient treatment, clients can continue to receive the support they need without feeling abandoned.

Contact Jackson House for Support

If you or a loved one needs any level of support along the continuum of care, contact Jackson House today for more information. Our compassionate team of experts can help you determine which of our programs is right for you.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.