Outpatient VS Inpatient Treatment – Which Is Better For Your Mental Health?


Mental health is essential for everyone to stay functional and healthy. Treating mental health issues is a sensitive matter as you need the right plan to have the desired results. If you’re looking for mental health therapies for you or a loved one, you will find a huge number of therapies with different techniques that will leave you confused. 

One of the decisions you should take right away is inpatient or outpatient treatment. You will find that some patients prefer inpatient treatment while others recommend outpatient one. Which one is better for your mental health? Read on to know how to choose the right treatment.

Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Care

The obvious difference between these two treatment plans is where the client will sleep at night, either at home or in a facility. While under inpatient care, the patient will stay in a facility and sleep there while being monitored the whole day by mental health professionals and the patient will not return home until the program is over. 

On the other hand, the outpatient programs allow the client to receive the same type of treatments while getting to go home at the end of the day, having the chance to practice what they learned in the real world. It’s not simple to say one treatment is better than the other, as it all depends on the patient’s personalized treatment plan.

Facing the Real World

Patients go through mental health treatments to have the ability to deal with the real world once again without facing too many difficult challenges. People are different and the way they cope with their mental health issues varies so what works on one patient won’t necessarily work on others. The inpatient programs nurture individuals in a supportive environment without the stress of facing the real world immediately. Outpatient programs focus on providing clients with coping strategies that can help them through their daily lives with minimal supervision. Choosing an inpatient or outpatient treatment depends solely on the person, whether they are ready to face the real world or if they need more time to acquire skills and confidence to tackle challenges in their lives.


The program fees are considered a major factor in choosing its type. Inpatient treatment is more expensive as it includes a stay in a facility for a long time, meals, therapies, and other amenities. However, if you have health insurance, check if it covers some of the inpatient care costs as it will make a big difference in choosing the right treatment. You pay for the treatment methods only when you enroll in an outpatient program which reduces the cost significantly.

When to Choose Inpatient Treatment?

It’s recommended to talk to a mental health professional before making a decision, as they will suggest the right approach to your case. The professional will determine what kind of support is required for you. Inpatient programs are recommended for people who are in danger of harming themselves or others, so they are usually required to stay in an inpatient mental health center to be cared for by medical professionals all day long. 

Patients who have a history of relapse, substance abuse, or whose living situations trigger them should opt for inpatient care as it limits the temptation and trigger sources. If an individual entered an outpatient program but didn’t reach the required results, they should try the inpatient approach to find if it will bear fruit to better results.

When to Choose Outpatient Treatment?

Constant support and monitoring from health professionals provide immense progress towards the treatment goals. However, they are not needed in every case, as some people will flourish and improve when they need to handle stressors and cope with daily challenges in the real world. If they don’t pose threats to themselves or others and they are not in danger of relapse, an outpatient program may aid them in achieving their mental health goals. 

Outpatient programs may include counseling, group therapy, psychiatry, and medical consultations that give patients the right tools to handle their problems. People who have eating disorders, anxiety, and depression can benefit from outpatient treatment. They are also perfect for people with a limited budget and for those who have finished an inpatient program and want continued support as they head back out into the real world.

The Patient’s Comfort

If the patient doesn’t feel comfortable where they are, the treatment plans will have reduced effects if none at all. Comfort should be a major factor when choosing between inpatient and outpatient plans. If being in an inpatient facility makes you anxious, stressed, or nervous, then you should go for an outpatient program to have the desired results from treatment. 

If you get triggered by things in your home or around your neighborhood, it’s crucial to change your surroundings and choose inpatient treatment to get yourself away from any triggers. You have to be honest with yourself first and find out why you’re not feeling comfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone is beneficial in some cases and will help in reaching your goals.

Ask a Professional

No matter how much research you put into finding the right treatment for your mental health, a doctor or a therapist will have a better understanding of the situation. Mental health professionals have the proper education and experience to recommend the right course of action. 

They will determine the treatment plan after they thoroughly examine you. Ask a professional about what you should do, consider the options they give you, and ask which one is better for you and your mental health. Take their advice into consideration as they try to do what’s best for you, but ultimately, the final decision is yours.


There is no definitive answer to which program is better for your mental health as each one makes you handle your mental health problems in different ways. Asking a doctor or a therapist is a good first step to knowing which one to choose. Inpatient and outpatient programs offer the best treatments to help you in improving the quality of your life, so you should pick the one that you think is better for you, one you feel comfortable with, and one that fits your budget.

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