We have a daughter on the autism spectrum that has struggled for years. We've been in acute care hospitals all over Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and North Carolina over the last 8 years and not one of them is as good, or even comes close, to the level of care and dedication at Vandy. One thing to understand about acute care in mental health is that the goal is stabilization. They adjust meds, allow time away from outside stimuli, monitor behaviors, and help a person find resources through outpatient care, which is where we fix ourselves with the help of our therapists, psychiatrists, etc. The stay is short term and the hospital is not meant to "fix" or "cure" anyone, although that's happened. (more on that in a bit) Our daughter has been admitted more than half a dozen times over the years on the youth and then adolescent side for various reasons including suicidal ideation and self harm, and we would never choose another place after our experiences with what mental healthcare is like outside of Vandy. Vanderbilt is unlike any other psychiatric hospital we've experienced. They have daily visitation, an engaging staff that hasn't had time to become burnt out yet, top notch programming, a very welcoming approach to families, and genuinely compassionate people who are working against a mental healthcare system that doesn't work well in the first place because our culture and insurance companies don't value the need appropriately. My daughter feels safe and heard here, two things that are so necessary for growth and two things she hasn't experienced anywhere else. She has made remarkable strides over the years and that's in large part to the resources and recommendations we recieved from connecting with staff at Vandy.
If you're a parent of a child battling a dangerous eating disorder, or self harm, or who is suicidal, that child is not always going to be happy or grateful you admitted them to a place where they're monitored and don't have freedom to do what they want for 10 days or so, but they will have been kept safe, genuinely cared for, and have access to tools, meds, and therapies that can change their lives if they choose to engage and take control of their lives. The follow up and case management is dedicated and work hard to help find post hospital stay outpatient care. They will go above and beyond if you reach out and ask questions. Work with them! I myself have been self admitted back in 2016 after an uncharacteristic and scary episode, and my stay DID "fix me," so to speak. The psychiatrist recognized that the medication I took for depression was one that actually could induce dangerous manic and depressive episodes. We were able to test another medication under his monitoring and I have been great since. My experience in the hospital with other patients (and for the very fact it was a horrible time in my life and a hospital stay is always not what anyone wants to do.) was very unpleasant. When I was admitted there was no room on the floor that dealt with emotional/depressive stuff and I was given a bed on a floor for people dealing with major psychosis. It was scary and unpleasant, I wanted to run out of there from the very start, but the staff was wonderful and supportive. I understood I needed help and that it wasn't going to be a posh, fluffy, sunshine and rainbows type of thing getting that help. Ideally, if you find yourself needing that intervention yourself, you'll be admitted to the right floor, but they are often very full and it's important to get that help however you can. Again, mental healthcare is not valued highly enough for the public to have access to the kind of care we desperately need, but Vanderbilt comes very close and makes up for the true failings of other acute care facilities. I've been meaning to write this for years. I hope it helps someone. Whatever has brought you to needing a psychiatric hospital is going to be unpleasant and a difficult journey, please keep perspective to see that there are places that are here to help even if it isn't perfect or comfortable.