Question: If I ever feel the need to go to a hospital and be checked in because I know I'll hurt myself or worse, is there a way to do that?
Answer: Yes! Personally, I don't like going to the hospital and use it only as a last resort, but when you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, it really is the safest place to be. If you are in Erie County, there are two hospitals that provide emergency psychiatric care:
Erie County Medical Center: Erie County Medical Center offers a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP), which is basically an emergency room solely for mental health-related emergencies. CPEP, like a regular emergency room, is open 24/7 and provides care to children, adolescents, and adults. To be assessed in CPEP, you first need to go to the regular emergency room at Erie County Medical Center. After letting staff know that you are there for a psychiatric emergency, you will be directed to CPEP. NOTE: CPEP occasionally becomes crowded and you may find yourself waiting to be seen for HOURS. (I've heard stories of people who waited for 48-72 hours before admission!) Erie County Medical Center also offers a Mobile Crisis Outreach Program, which provides psychiatric assessment in your home. To learn more about behavioral health care at Erie County Medical Center, click HERE.
BryLin Hospital: BryLin Hospital provides emergency psychiatric care to children, adolescents, and adults. The admission process at BryLin is a bit different from the admission process at ECMC because it is a private psychiatric hospital. To be admitted to BryLin, clients are asked to call 716-886-8200 ext. 2264. You will speak to a nurse who will conduct an assessment over the phone and then contact the on-call doctor to determine whether or not you are suitable for admission. The nurse will then call you back and let you know the doctor's decision. Because BryLin is a private psychiatric hospital, they are not required to admit every patient who requests admission over the phone. However, if you show up at the door of BryLin Hospital and state that you are in a psychiatric crisis, they cannot refuse you care. To learn more about BryLin Hospital and the admission process, click HERE.
- Before going to ANY psychiatric hospital, make sure you have your insurance card and a list of phone numbers for people you may want to contact during your stay. You are not allowed to have a cell phone in a psychiatric hospital, but you will have access to a patient phone to make and receive calls.
- Do not wear clothing with drawstrings. They will either cut the drawstrings from your clothes, or provide you with a gown to wear instead. You may also want to bring slippers or flip flops. Typically, your shoes will be taken and locked away during your stay. (The hospital will provide you with grippy socks if you need them, but I personally would much rather have my own comfy socks or slippers to wear!)
- Bring a book. There's usually not a lot to do for fun in a psychiatric hospital. :/ And if you're stuck in CPEP waiting to be seen by a doctor, you're going to want something to help you pass the time.
- The Mental Health Association of Erie County provides Family Support Partners and/or Peer Advocates to BryLin Hospital and Erie County Medical Center. FSP's and PA's have personal experience with the mental health care system and are a fantastic resource if you find yourself in a psychiatric emergency! Be sure to ask a nurse or staff member to point them out!
Alternatives to Psychiatric Hospitalization:
- "Parlor" (A Crisis Diversion Program): This is NOT a hospital. "Parlor" provides free mental health services to adults 18+ who are experiencing a crisis that could potentially lead to a psychiatric hospitalization. It is located at 327 Elm Street, Buffalo, NY 14202 and is open from daily from 3:00 - 11:00 PM. For more information, call 716-884-5216 or click HERE.
- Refreshing Waters Respite: This is a peer-run program that provides short-term care (1-5 days) to adults in Erie County who are experiencing mental health challenges and would like an alternative to a psychiatric hospital. For more information, call 844-588-8427 or 716-248-2886, or click HERE. (Note: There is a similar program called Eagles Nest Respite that services Cattaraugus and Chautaqua Counties. For more information, call 844-421-1114 or 716-241-4605).
**Disclaimer: The previous question was submitted to me by a student following a presentation I gave on depression and anxiety in youth. The answer I provide is based on my personal experiences and professional knowledge as a Youth Peer Advocate. However, this advice is not intended to replace the guidance of a mental health professional (ex. psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.) Remember...if you or a friend is in immediate danger, contact Crisis Services (716-834-3131) or call 911.