Mental health treatment: what to expect

Going into hospital to receive mental health treatment can seem daunting, but it’s your first step along the road to recovery. This is what you can expect.

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It’s important to understand that mental health conditions are very common. An estimated one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, so if you’re having trouble with your mental health, you’re really not alone. Seeking help for your mental health isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s your first step along the road to recovery.

Still, taking that step can be daunting; you’re likely to have lots of unanswered questions. Here, we outline what you can expect from inpatient mental health treatment and how we can support you every step of the way towards getting your life back on track.

Why would I need mental health treatment?

Everyone experiences mental health challenges differently and some symptoms can be more debilitating than others. However, you may need professional inpatient treatment if:

  • You’re struggling to cope with the way you’re feeling
  • Your negative feelings are excessive and seem out of control
  • Your mental health is having a negative impact on your ability to function and look after yourself on a daily basis

Inpatient mental health treatment can help you to get better. You’ll be given the tools you need to overcome your symptoms and address any underlying causes for the way you’re feeling, all while receiving compassionate, round-the-clock support from experienced mental health specialists.

Without support, your mental health problems can become worse over time, negatively affecting all areas of your life. That’s why it’s so important to get the help you need, and start taking steps towards recovery.

Residential support enquiries

If you think you may need residential treatment at Priory and would like to discuss your options, please call us and speak to our expert advisers.
Call: 0330 056 6024
Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form.

Inpatient mental health treatment

Admission to hospital

The process you go through to enter treatment at Priory can vary depending on a few factors. These are:

  • Whether you’re funding your treatment yourself, or using private medical insurance. Find out more about our payment and funding options
  • The hospital site you wish to receive treatment at (if you know this)
  • The consultant whose care you wish to be under (if you know this)
  • Any applicable waiting times

The best initial step you can make is to contact our friendly and knowledgeable team on 0330 056 6020 – you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We'll be able to advise you of the steps you’ll need to take to enter treatment with Priory, depending on your unique condition, circumstances and preferences.

In some cases, you may need a GP referral to enter treatment with us, but this isn’t always the case. Our team will be able to advise if this applies to you. However, you may prefer to start your treatment journey by speaking to your GP about what you’re going through. This can help you gain an initial understanding of your condition and the options that are available to you, and also means that our consultants already have some information on the challenges you’re facing when you do enter treatment.

When you first arrive

When you first arrive at hospital, you’ll be met by our team and will be introduced to key members of staff. This is likely to be your therapist, consultant and nursing team. You’ll be shown around the hospital site and will be taken to your room where you’ll be able to unpack and make yourself comfortable. You’ll also be given any other practical information that’s relevant to your stay, such as:

  • Mealtimes and the location of the dining room
  • The location of our therapy rooms and individual consultation rooms
  • Laundry, housekeeping and maintenance services
  • The process for storing any prescription medication that you've brought into hospital with you

It’s also likely that you’ll have an initial session with your key therapist and/or consultant when you first arrive, so that you can start developing your therapeutic relationship, talk about how you’re feeling about coming into hospital and agree on the goals you’d like to achieve while you’re in treatment. You’ll also be able to work together to formulate a therapy plan, in terms of what type and format of therapy would be best suited to your needs.

If you have any questions at any point, please don't hesitate to ask our team for assistance; we're more than happy to help.


We can offer a number of therapy formats as part of our inpatient mental health treatment programmes. It’s likely that you'll receive a combination of both group therapy and individual therapy during your stay in hospital, depending on your needs and therapy plan. There may also be opportunities to engage in family and couples therapy with your immediate family or loved ones.

Starting therapy can be daunting, but we use a wide range of evidence-based techniques to treat a number of mental health presentations. All of our therapists are experts in their field and have extensive experience. The therapy types you may benefit from will differ depending on your condition and personal requirements, but that decision is always made by a trained medical professional.

Many of our hospital sites also offer wellbeing activities, helping you to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit while you’re staying with us. These can include:

  • Yoga
  • Shiatsu
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Art therapy

Free time and family visits

Alongside your therapy programme, you’ll also have some free time, allowing you to relax, unwind and reflect. You can spend private time in your room, or make the most of our beautiful communal living spaces.

You may also wish to use some of your free time connecting and spending time with your family. We understand that, for many people, their family and loved ones are absolutely key in their recovery journey, which is why our hospital sites encourage family visits a number of times each week. These times can vary depending on the site you’re receiving treatment with, so for any questions on this, please don’t hesitate to ask our team.

Discover Patrick's story

Discover Patrick's story

Preparing for mental health treatment

If you’re due to come for mental health treatment within one of our Priory hospitals, there are a number of things you can do to prepare:

  • Make sure you read your hospital’s welcome pack, which will be given to you before you arrive. This contains details on what to bring with you into hospital, as well as lots of other useful information
  • Speak to your loved ones about what involvement you'd like from them while you’re in hospital. You can agree on things like how often they come to visit you (if you want them to at all), and how you’ll keep in touch with them while you’re with us (if you wish to). Some people may prefer to have a complete break away from their day-to-day lives and therefore have minimal contact with their loved ones while they stay with us – that’s perfectly OK too. It’s good to communicate your wishes so everyone is on the same page
  • Make sure you come into hospital with an open mind. You may be exploring lots of difficult issues during therapy sessions, and sometimes this can be overwhelming. However, everything we do is evidence-based and delivered by highly qualified specialists so it’s important to trust the process and go with it
  • Lastly, if you have any questions at all about your stay with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We’ll be more than happy to provide you with any information or advice you need

Inpatient mental health treatment can be really powerful. It can help you to overcome your symptoms, develop coping mechanisms for the future and achieve a strong recovery.

How long do people stay in a mental health hospital?

If you’re receiving private mental health treatment, you’ll be able to leave at any point you wish to. However, we strongly recommend completing your agreed treatment plan, so that we can help you to achieve your goals.

The length of your proposed treatment plan can vary depending on what mental health condition you’re struggling with, as well as the severity of this. Your treatment team will be able to advise more regarding your anticipated length of stay with us.

Our hospital environments

At Priory, we know that the environment you receive treatment in is just as important as the treatment itself when it comes to facilitating wellness and recovery.

Our beautiful hospital sites, many of which boast stunning architecture and listed building status, aim to provide the utmost in comfort and tranquillity. We offer:

  • Comfortable and modern en-suite bedrooms
  • Welcoming living areas
  • Fully equipped dining rooms and on-site careering to suit your needs
  • Attractive private grounds and landscaped gardens
  • Access to local communities and countryside where applicable
  • Access to multi-faith resources

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

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