what psychiatric wards are really like

You’ll notice that, in this post, I use the term “crazies” quite a lot. It is simply in reference to those that society dubs “crazy”. I, for one, do not believe in labelling someone “crazy” or “normal”, because you cannot define “crazy”. What’s crazy to me, may not be crazy to you. So whose definition of crazy is right? Neither. “Crazy” is an opinion.

I did a quick Google search for “mental ward”. Unsurprisingly, the images I found were disturbing and inaccurate:

I do not blame Google for the search results it presented me, and I do not blame people for picturing such scenes in their minds when asked to picture a mental ward.

Certain words today, such as “asylum”, “mental ward”, “psychiatric unit”, “mental hospital” and “mental institute” bring about images of crazies running around a room with bleached walls, people confined in padded rooms in straitjackets, a girl making out with the wall, a man hitting his head, people strapped to beds….

Some may even imagine an asylum to be eerie and bone-chilling, with crazies muttering to themselves, facing the wall, maybe a little girl holding a teddy bear standing in the middle of the walkway, staring at you.

All those images you get in your brain are all thanks to the media. Take a moment, and ask yourself this – have you ever seen a mental ward in real life before? Or people who have been warded in mental wards before? You haven’t. Yet, you think that you know what psychiatric wards are like, just because you’ve seen it on television or read about it in fiction novels. You think that you know what psychiatric patients are like, but you don’t.

When you walk into a psychiatric ward, things seem pretty usual for the most part. Just like any other ward, there are nurses bustling about and patients roaming the halls. Contrary to popular belief, people in mental wards don’t act the way you think crazies act. They’re human beings too, not crazy exhibits, and not everyone in a psychiatric ward show symptoms of psychosis. Patients in mental wards range from depressives to psychotics. In fact, most of the patients try to hide all their symptoms – psychotic or not – and, unless they are overcome by a wave of mania, they seem almost “normal”.

Everyone in a psychiatric ward wants to go home, and hence, they all try to put on their best behaviour – you don’t have people getting into fights every minute, or people stabbing each other with forks and trying to bite each other’s limbs off; you only see that on the silver screen.

Of course, there are always incidents whereby patients lose control over their actions and start lashing out, but it doesn’t occur every single minute the way movies portray it.

In short, everything you think you know about psychiatric wards is bullshit.
A mental ward, most of the time, looks like just another hospital ward.



2 thoughts on “what psychiatric wards are really like

  1. Hey Claire, I’m glad that was your experience in psychiatric wards. really am. Sad to say, the imh ones are quite similar to some portrayed in the mass media, unfortunately. Crazies walkin around talking or laughing to themselves… Yep..nevertheless it’s a good thing you stayed in a private hospital ward :)


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