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Five things that surprised me about being in inpatient care

4 min read
05 December 2018

Topics mentioned: inpatient care, self-esteem

Author: Tom

About: What’s it like to go to hospital for your mental health? Tom shares his experience of being in inpatient care, and some of the positive experiences he had during a daunting and scary time.


Going into inpatient care can be a daunting experience for anybody. It is totally normal to feel confused, scared and worried.

You might feel as though there is nothing positive about being away from home, but I can assure you there will be lots of things you will learn on your journey to recovery. Try and just go with the flow and before you know it, you will be back in your own bed.

Here are five things that surprised me about being in inpatient care:

It was an opportunity to learn from different people.

Leaving home

Leaving home when you're struggling with your mental health, even just for a few hours, can feel terrifying. So the thought of being away for a few weeks might seem impossible -  especially if it’s your first time away from home.

When I went into hospital, it was my first time being away from home. I like my own routine, and my own way of doing things and did not want anybody to change it. But I was wrong.

The more I realised that there were other ways of doing things, the more I started to see new possibilities for freedom and creativity. It was an opportunity to learn from different people.


You can gain a lot of self-confidence being away from home, and it may help you realise that sometimes the best “toolkit” you have is yourself.

Although staying at home might feel like the better option, not having your family around as much can give you a chance to learn about yourself.

Not having your family around as much can give you a chance to learn about yourself.

New friends

Meeting new people can be the worst thing in the world, as well as feeling trapped in an unknown place. I never thought I would gain friends from being in a hospital - but I did.

I still talk to them a few years on, and because we lived with each other at our worst, it’s become a very strong relationship of sharing problems and understanding each other.

Learning new skills

The ward will have different things you can do throughout the day. Some things you might think are not for you, but give them a go. I had the same feelings, I thought I didn’t need to learn how to be “mindful” and it would be boring! But actually, once I had a go it was great.

You might not admit to it straight away (I definitely didn’t) but you soon notice that there is nothing wrong with liking something that might sound boring or stupid, just as long as you enjoy it. Give it a go!

I never thought I would gain friends from being in a hospital - but I did.

It's not always lonely

Just because you’re away from home, it doesn’t mean you’re never going to see your family again. Your team want you to be back home as soon as possible. Being with family through a hard time can help you recover, but families don’t always know the right answers and that’s why sometimes it’s best to get professional help.

You’ll be able to go on home leave as soon as possible, and your family will be able to visit you on a regular basis. So you’re never that far from home – it’s just a bit of time for you and your family to get back on track.

More information and advice on inpatient care

To find out more about what it's like going into hospital for mental health treatment, have a look at your guide to inpatient care.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Shout

    Text SHOUT to 85258.

    Shout provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:

Thanks for sharing your story Tom

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