The Behavioral Health Unit

The Behavioral Health Unit is an area of the hospital designed to stabilize someone with a mental health emergency. This video explains what you and your family can expect while you’re in an Intermountain Behavioral Health Unit. Our goal is to give you the best experience where you feel safe and supported.

Why is inpatient care needed?

There are a lot of reasons why a someone may need care in a Behavioral Health Unit. In general, people are admitted because their symptoms are serious and unstable, or they’re at risk for harming themselves or others.

The main goal of the unit is to provide a safe and secure place where people can get treatment to move past a crisis. The average length of stay varies with each person however, most patients are here less than a week.

How is the Behavioral Health Unit different from other hospital areas?

Unlike other hospital units, the Behavioral Health Unit has a lot of open space and it’s shared with other patients. This promotes interaction between patients and staff, creates areas for group meetings, and generally supports therapeutic goals. Patients will often eat meals together in the dining room. Patient rooms don’t have a lot of furniture in them, which encourages patients to spend time in the shared areas, like doing group activities and treatments. Some of our units have shared rooms and you may have a roommate and a shared bathroom.

The Behavioral Health Unit is kept locked to separate patients from areas or items that can be harmful. Patients are encouraged to bring in a limited number of belongings. Staff members will explain what is allowed before and during check-in. For example, you can bring paperback books and extra clothes, but hospital toiletries will be provided. We also limit who and what comes in and out of the unit. This makes the space more secure and helps everyone focus on the well-being of patients.

Due to privacy laws, we cannot share your information without consent. Each patient gets to choose a 4-digit code which they can give to family and friends who they’d like to be visited by. This code can also be used to give those trusted contacts access to your information about your treatment. Only two visitors are allowed per patient and hours will vary by location. Visitors under the age of 12 are not allowed in the unit. This helps reduce interruptions and distractions, so patients can focus on their treatment. All visitors are screened using a metal detection wand. Visitors are asked to empty their pockets and place all personal items in a locker.

Many of our patients are dealing with intense feelings and emotions that make them unsafe to be alone. We regularly monitor where you are and how you are doing emotionally. Our goal is to give you a safe and calming environment. Behavior that disrupts patient care or threatens safety will not be tolerated and may have legal consequences. Our staff is here to help you. If you have any questions during your stay, please don’t think twice about asking them.

What kind of treatment can I expect?

Although treatment is tailored to your individual needs, you can expect your care to include these basic elements:
  • Work with a team of people who have different training and specialties: a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, psychiatric tech and social worker or therapist.
  • Medication is an important part of treatment for a lot of patients. Staff will double-check your identity before giving you meds. This is to make sure the right person gets the right medication. This usually means asking you to confirm your name and birthday and checking your responses against the information on your wristband or other ID.
  • Your treatment team will work with you to create a personalized care plan. The plan includes medication management, physical assessment, individual & group therapy, and planning for discharge.
  • Patients who have social support have better outcomes and we encourage you to involve family and friends in your treatment plan. We will schedule a session with you and your family or support person to discuss treatment progress, safety planning, and follow-up care.

After your stay, ongoing medication management and therapy are still part of keeping your mental health on the road to recovery. It’s very important to keep the follow-up appointments we have scheduled with outpatient mental health providers.