My experience at a mental hospital

General Editor Ruben Sanchez Lopez gives an inside look into what it means and what it looks like to spend time at a mental institution


Ruben Sanchez Lopez, General Editor

Editor’s note: One of the staff members of The Eagle Eye, Ruben Sanchez Lopez, has chosen to open up about his struggles this school year with mental health – making that choice as a way to remove the stigma from something that impacts millions of Americans and is often misunderstood. Ruben said that he hopes his experience will allow others to be less ashamed to seek the help that they need. 

My experience at a mental health institution was anything but ordinary.

Being referred to a mental institution for mental health was a very interesting and long process. It can be a very hard process because being at a mental hospital is extremely different from being out in the real world. When I got to the ER I had to wait for about 3 hours before being admitted into a room and having a security guard watching over me.  It is not my first time being at a mental health hospital either – I also went to Fremont mental hospital at the beginning of the school year for around 3 weeks.

Even though it felt like jail being at the mental hospital I still believe overall it was good for me. Unlike the Spongebob episode that featured Spongebob being in an empty room tied up without being able to communicate with other people, it’s much different than that. I could talk to many people there such as my case worker, the nurses, staff, and other patients in the mental hospital.

When I first got there they didn’t let me wear my shoes with shoelaces in them. They also made me wear a very uncomfortable and ugly gown that totally wasn’t my style. The colors of the building were light colors such as yellowish white and light blue. There was a hallway where the rooms were and each room had a shower and a bathroom. Towards the end of the hallway, there was an emergency exit in case of an emergency. When I first entered the room for me to sleep in, I noticed a weird smell coming from the window that wasn’t open. When I finally got the bed it was as hard as a rock and very uncomfortable to sleep on. I ended up dyeing my pillow a very bright red because of my colored hair.

When I woke up from my sleep I was called into a group meeting where we met with a therapist to talk about healthy coping skills. This was my first ever group in the psych ward and, I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty fun. Breakfast came at 8:30 and it was eggs with sausage and cereal with milk. After the group, we got to talking with each other and I met my new friend Brian. Brian and I talked about why we were admitted and when we were going to leave. Throughout the day I had to talk to a case manager, a nurse, and the staff. We had lunch around 12:30 and quiet time after that which was used for sleeping. Toward dinner, everyone had to take their meds and we had to line up. I take 2 pills a day, 1 big one and one small one. After taking our meds we go to sleep, which gets easier after the first day.

Most of the days in the mental health hospital were made up of me watching tv, talking to friends, and taking our meds. We had groups daily which taught me a lot about how to cope with daily struggles. My favorite group was with a staff member named Justin who was honest and cussed a lot.

Every day around 5 am the staff would come around and check our vitals to make sure we were healthy. The nurses were there to help people that got injured or people that just needed help. The case managers were there to help you get discharged.

During the day we were able to watch TV and we watched Family Guy, the Simpsons, and Ridiculousness. We had to answer questions daily about our mental health and how we were feeling. We were able to go outside in the cold during one of those days. There was a gym and a cafeteria we were able to go to, however, the food wasn’t that good.

Overall even though there is a lot of misconception about what a psych ward is like, I firmly believe that it was a good experience for me.