This topic often comes up so I thought I'd create a thread to inform, and discuss concerns of people scared to ask for help from a hospital.
I've worked as a mental health peer worker since mid last year so I totally understand the stigma around being admitted. I spent two weeks on a ward a few years ago so my post is from lived experience as well.
Depending on your circumstances, being admitted voluntarily or involuntarily isn't really any different except if you're violent or are at risk of self-harming. In these instances patients are sent to a ward where they can be monitored more closely than on other wards.
Think of the MH system as a scale from 1 to 3; at each level you're being assessed to move to the next level of care with less monitoring and more independence, eg. wards can be closed or open depending on whether the patient is a risk to themselves or others and has proven themselves to be actively participating in their own recovery.
Assessments are carried out by a psychiatrist assigned to the patient on admission or the next available time permitted as they are extremely busy or it's in the middle of the night.
Nursing staff take daily, and sometimes hourly notes to support the assessment process. They follow the Dr's treatment plan which includes medication both regularly administered and PRN for crisis situations when people need something extra to help them cope.
In my own case I was prescribed a daily anti-depressant with PRN anti-anxiety as a back-up which I only requested when I couldn't sleep or was distressed. People with more severe symptoms are treated with medication in alignment with their particular diagnosis and responses.
Sometimes it takes a while to test what the best medication is, so letting staff know how you feel with any new drug is really important. Their notes are a direct link to your psychiatrist and are discussed every morning in a combined clinical meeting to identify the best avenue of treatment and ward movements for each patient.
As you can imagine, patients at each stage of the scale will differ in how they act, respond and engage with others. Focusing on yourself and recovery is the best way to approach your stay.
Hope this helps. Looking forward to comments from members.