Investigating the impact of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization on youth and young adult trust and help‑seeking in pathways to care

Nev Jones, Becky K. Gius, Morgan Shields, Shira Collings, Cherise Rosen, Michelle R. Munson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Few studies have focused on the experience of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization among youth, especially the impact of these experiences on engagement with mental health services post-discharge. In this study, we contribute to a deeper understanding of youth experiences of involuntary hospitalization (IH) and its subsequent impacts on trust, helpseeking, and engagement with clinicians.
Methods: The study utilized a grounded theory approach, conducting in-depth interviews with 40 youth and young adults (ages 16–27) who had experienced at least one prior involuntary hospitalization.
Results: Three quarters of the youth reported negative impacts of IH on trust, including unwillingness to disclose suicidal feelings or intentions. Selective non-disclosure of suicidal feelings was reported even in instances in which the participant continued to meet with providers following discharge. Factors identified as contributing to distrust included perceptions of inpatient treatment as more punitive than therapeutic, staff as more judgmental than empathetic, and hospitalization overall failing to meet therapeutic needs. Conversely, participants reporting more mixed experiences of hospitalization and simultaneously strong indirect benefits, including greater family support, diminished family judgement members and greater access to care.
Conclusion: Findings draw attention to the ways in which coercive experiences may impact youth pathways to and through care. Additional research is needed to understand the impact of these experiences across larger samples, and their influence on downstream outcomes including engagement and long-term wellbeing. Finally, these data may inform the development and testing of inpatient and post-discharge interventions designed to mitigate potential harm.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
StateE-pub ahead of print - Mar 9 2021


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