When your loved one is admitted to an in-patient psych facility, he or she will be cared for on a range from barely to really well. It all depends on the place. In some cases, he or she will see a professional multiple times a day, get one-on-one counseling and work on skills that will help with coping upon release. In other cases, patients all get lumped together under one umbrella and your mentally ill loved one might find herself standing in line for morning meds with people on methadone maintenance and spending her group sessions watching documentaries on heroin addiction while her anxiety disorder continues to ravage her nerves. Oh, sorry. I lapsed into biography there. What I'm getting at is that, no matter where your loved one is sent, there are some creature comforts that can go a long way.
1. A toothbrush-Facilities provide them and they are absolutely useless
2. Toothpaste-If you don't want your loved one brushing her teeth with what tastes like mint lotion
3. Sandals-Please don't make them put their bare feet in those showers
4. Slippers-A lot of places won't even let you have regular shoes with laces, so warm slippers are good
5. Books-Don't make the mistake of assuming she will be busy with enriching activities
6. Clean clothes-Make sure the clothes are comfortable and stretchy. It is common to lose or gain weight in a mental hospital. Oh, and don't skimp on the socks and undies.
7. A notebook and pen-It helps to have a place where you can voice all of your WTF thoughts.
8. Ensure-If your loved one is having a hard time eating, the doctor might "prescribe" Ensure or he'll say something like "Nothing comes to mind." when you ask him what to do about the problem. If the latter is the case, bring your loved one Ensure to keep up her weight.
9. Bottled water-Just a few bottles she can refill at the water cooler works. Cups are small, easy to knock over and just not great for bedsides.
10. Tampons/Pads-All of these places have sanitary products, but if your loved one is a woman, she has a preference. You may have to check these items with the powers that be and she may have to ask for one every single time she needs it, publicly in a hallway, but at least she'll have them.
If you have any more suggestions for people who are caring for loved ones with mental illness, please drop your tips in the comments section below.