Mental hospitals are supposed to help those who are sick. This is a story from inside a mental hospital in New York from a person who would like to stay anonymous. 

The first day I walked into the hospital it looked like a fancy camp with a diverse group of people. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. You could hear the cries of those being locked up in a padded room with a mattress. I wanted to avoid being put in there, so I stayed quiet like a mouse. 

In these types of places you don’t want to be the eye of the crowd. People who are loud or misbehave get put down with an injection. The word “triggered” was used a lot and people with different problems are all put together in the same house. I’m 16, and was put with about ten other teens in a house. The house was large and comfy, with nice furniture. 

The first day, the people who worked there took me to a room with two other roommates. The room was nice and had  a comfortable bed. I made friends and we went to the lounge where there was a TV. The food was decent and the kids were nice and not judgmental. We would sit into a circle everyday to meet in a group for therapy. 

But the people who worked there had a negative attitude. They even said we were all criminals, which is wrong. Some people in mental hospitals come for bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis, bulimia, anorexia, and drug abuse. Most of them are labeled as dangerous, even if they’re not. 

People with mental illness are usually targets, not criminals, and often only a danger to themselves. The hospital takes all the sharp harmful products out of your way, but one girl who harmed herself tried killing herself with a pillow. She was sent home the day after she tried killing herself because insurance wouldn’t let her stay there. One girl was there because she was an orphan, and another was abused by her parents by being locked in a closet. A lot of patients got sick on the medications. During the day your parents could visit you and bring you food. 

I would recommend that those who are likely to harm themselves should go to day programs instead. The mental health facility I was in was not a good experience, but I was lucky to go to one of the nicer ones, and I appreciate the social workers and psychiatrists and nurses who work there.

Also, insurance needs to be improved because people can’t afford the help they need and some end up on the streets.

Raquel Lesser is studying for a masters degree in social work at SUNY Albany and has self-published five books.