September 5


Pack like a Pro: What to Bring for Inpatient Mental Health Treatment

By Joshua Turner

September 5, 2023

When preparing for inpatient mental health treatment, packing the right items can make a big difference in your comfort and overall experience. While each facility may have different guidelines, some general things are recommended for patients to bring.

The goal of inpatient treatment is to provide a supportive and healing environment, and packing items that promote relaxation and self-care can help facilitate this process.

A vital item to pack is comfortable clothing that you feel good in. This can include pajamas, sweatpants, and soft t-shirts. Consider bringing a few comfortable outfits for daytime wear and a jacket or sweater in case the facility is cold. Packing comfortable shoes, such as sneakers or slippers, is also a good idea, as you may be doing a lot of walking around the facility.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Inpatient Mental Health Treatment

Inpatient mental health treatment is a type of hospitalization that provides intensive care for individuals with mental illness—where patients receive 24-hour care from a team of professionals in a hospital.

Patients receive a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan. This plan is developed by professionals, including psychiatrists, therapists, and nurses. The goal is to stabilize the patient’s psychological health and provide them with the necessary tools to manage their symptoms.

It can be provided in various settings, including residential treatment programs and psychiatric hospitals. The admissions process typically involves an assessment of the patient’s mental health, medical history, and any previous care they may have received.

Why Choose Inpatient Treatment

It is an excellent choice for individuals struggling with a mental health crisis or needing help stabilizing their symptoms. The treatment provides a safe and supportive environment where patients can focus on their recovery without the distractions of everyday life.

One of the benefits is the freedom it provides. Patients can focus on their recovery without the stress of work, school, or other responsibilities. They are also free to participate in various therapies and activities to help them recover.

The 24-hour support and care provided by the staff can help patients stabilize their symptoms and prevent future crises. It also provides a structured environment to help patients develop healthy habits and coping skills.

What to Expect During Admission

The admissions team will be there to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a member of the admissions team who will ask you some questions about your history and current symptoms. This information will help the providers create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

If you are a voluntary patient, you can leave anytime, but discussing this decision with your provider first is vital. If you are involuntarily admitted, the law requires that you stay for a certain period, usually 72 hours, for evaluation and stabilization.


During your stay, you can expect to attend therapy sessions, participate in group activities, and receive medication management if necessary. The providers will work with you to develop coping skills and strategies to manage your symptoms outside of the hospital setting.

Conditions Treated in Inpatient Setting

The conditions that are treated in an inpatient setting vary widely, but some of the most common include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, mania, and psychotic disorders.

Anxiety is another common condition that can cause excessive worry, fear, and panic. They can receive therapy, medication, and other treatments to help them manage their symptoms and learn coping skills to reduce their anxiety levels when admitted.

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings, including periods of mania and depression. Those with bipolar disorder can receive drug management, therapy, and other treatments to help them stabilize their moods and manage their symptoms.

Schizophrenia is a severe condition that can cause hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. At the same time, psychotic disorders cause people to experience hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking, while depression is a common mental health condition that can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

In an inpatient setting, patients can receive prescription management, therapy, and other treatments to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder that causes elevated mood, increased energy, and impulsive behavior. Manic patients can receive medicine management, therapy, and other treatments to help them stabilize their moods and manage their symptoms.

Therapies and Interventions

Therapies may include individual therapy sessions with a licensed therapist, group therapy sessions with other patients, and family therapy sessions to address any family dynamics contributing to the individual’s mental health concerns.

Therapies can include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. These therapies help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to their concerns.

Group therapy sessions can provide individuals with a supportive environment to share their experiences and learn from others who are going through similar struggles. The group therapy sessions may be focused on specific topics such as anxiety, depression, or addiction.

Interventions may include coping skills training, which can help individuals learn healthy ways to manage their emotions and stress. Psychoeducation may also be provided to individuals and their families to help them better understand concerns and how to manage them.

Role of Medication

Medication helps to alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life. Inpatient mental health treatment may involve medication management, where a psychiatrist will prescribe and adjust medications as necessary.

Communicating any prescription medication you are taking before starting treatment is necessary. Your psychiatrist will carefully evaluate them and make any adjustments required to ensure that it is safe and effective for you.

They can also have side effects, which is why it is vital to discuss any concerns or issues with your psychiatrist. Doing so can help you understand the benefits and risks of each medication and make informed decisions about your treatment.


Medication is just one aspect of treatment. Combining it with therapy, self-care, and other healthy habits is critical to achieving the best results.

What to Pack for Inpatient Treatment

Pack items that will help you feel comfortable and supported during your stay. Here are some things to consider:


Bring comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely. Pack enough clothes for the length of your stay, including underwear, socks, and pajamas. Avoid clothing with strings or ties that could pose a safety risk.


Consider bringing a journal or notebook to write down your thoughts and feelings during your treatment. This can be a helpful way to track your progress and reflect on your experiences. You may also want to bring a pen or pencil.


Pack comfortable, supportive shoes that you can wear for walking and exercise. Avoid shoes with laces or buckles that could pose a safety risk.


Bring a reminder of home, such as a family photo or a favorite book, to help you feel more connected to your support system. This can be a helpful source of comfort during your stay.

What to Bring

Check with the treatment center beforehand to see if they recommend bringing any specific items. Some centers may restrict certain things, such as electronics or personal care products.

Personal Hygiene

Pack personal hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, and soap. Many treatment centers provide these items, but bringing your own is always a good idea to ensure you have what you need.

Inpatient mental health treatment aims to provide you with the support and resources you need to improve your mental health and well-being. Packing items that help you feel comfortable and supported can help you focus on your treatment and recovery more easily.

Items to Avoid Bringing

Many facilities have restrictions on certain items that could pose a risk to patients or staff.

One item to avoid bringing is sharp objects or heavy items. These items are typically prohibited and could have severe consequences if found during a search.

Some facilities may also restrict or prohibit electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones. This is to prevent patients from accessing potentially harmful content or communicating with individuals who could negatively impact their treatment.

Some facilities may also restrict food items, as patients are typically provided with meals and snacks. Bringing outside food could interfere with the meal plan and potentially cause issues for patients with dietary restrictions.

It’s important to avoid bringing any items that could be used to cause harm or promote violence, such as video games or violent movies. These items could trigger negative behaviors or thoughts in patients and interfere with their treatment progress.

Candles, incense, and other open flames are typically prohibited due to fire safety concerns. Follow these restrictions to ensure the safety of all patients and staff.

Personal hygiene items such as mouthwash or perfume may also be restricted due to their alcohol content. Check with the facility before bringing any of these items.


Jewelry, strings, and other items that could be used for self-harm should also be avoided. Patients are typically provided with appropriate clothing and bedding to prevent any harm to themselves.

Managing Personal Affairs

Inform your loved ones about your absence and provide them with emergency contact details. Make sure to have phone numbers for your family, friends, and healthcare providers readily available.

Bring your insurance cards and any necessary documents for outpatient treatment or care. This will ensure a smooth transition when you return home. If you need to make arrangements for ongoing outpatient care, discuss this with your treatment team before leaving.

During your stay, you may not have access to your phone or computer, so make arrangements for managing your bills and other responsibilities. Consider setting up automatic payments or asking a trusted friend or family member to help with these tasks.

Life Post Inpatient Treatment

After completing inpatient mental health treatment, maintain a routine that promotes mental wellness. Establishing a daily routine can help with stability and reduce anxiety. Mindfulness practices, exercise, and healthy eating habits can help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Safety should always be a top priority post-treatment. If you experience suicidal thoughts or risky behaviors, contact your treatment team immediately. It’s crucial to have a support system in place to help you navigate any challenges that may arise.

Keeping a notebook can effectively track your progress and identify any triggers or patterns that may arise. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can also be a therapeutic way to process emotions.

Your treatment team can continue to support you post-treatment through regular check-ins and therapy sessions. Stay connected with your social workers and professionals to continue your progress toward recovery.

If you have received addiction treatment, continue attending support groups and therapy sessions to maintain sobriety. It’s also vital to have a plan in place to avoid triggers and manage cravings.

Take your time to adjust to life post-treatment. It’s normal to experience challenges, but with the proper support and tools, you can function normally and lead a fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What personal items are allowed in a mental health hospital?

Most facilities allow personal items such as clothes, toiletries, and a few comfort items. However, checking with the hospital’s guidelines is always best before packing any personal items.

What clothing should I pack for inpatient mental health treatment?

Comfortable and loose-fitting clothing is recommended. Avoid clothing with drawstrings or belts. Bring enough clothes for a week, including socks and underwear.

Can I bring my own books to a mental health hospital?

Yes, most hospitals allow patients to bring their books. However, checking with the hospital’s guidelines before bringing any books is best.

Are stuffed animals allowed in a mental health hospital?

Stuffed animals are often allowed, but following the hospital’s guidelines is best. Some hospitals may restrict the size or type of stuffed animals allowed.

What toiletries should I pack for inpatient mental health treatment?

Pack toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, and hairbrush. Avoid bringing any razors or sharp objects.

What items should I avoid bringing to a mental health hospital?

Avoid bringing any drugs, alcohol, weapons, or any other illegal items. Also, avoid bringing any electronics, such as laptops, tablets, or cellphones, unless the hospital allows them.

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