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Psychiatric treatment

Psychiatry is a field of medicine which deals with the research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of mental disorders and diseases. It studies their biological causes, e.g. the effect of neurotransmission in the Central Nervous System (CNS), interactions between the immune, endocrine and nervous systems, the impact of somatic diseases (body diseases), the importance of immunity, proper nutrition and metabolism, and human microbiota on human mental health . It also deals with the study of genetic susceptibility to individual disease entities. A variety of psychotropic drugs are used in psychiatric treatment (collective name for drugs that affect the CNS). A mentally ill person must consent to psychiatric examination and treatment. According to the law, only in exceptional situations and with the use of appropriate procedures can they undergo psychiatric examination and treatment without their consent.

Forms of psychiatric treatment in Poland

Outpatient treatment

Outpatient treatment is carried out in mental health clinics or in psychiatric surgeries. A referral to a psychiatrist is not required, while a psychologist requires a referral issued by a psychiatrist, primary care physician or other specialist, e.g. a neurologist. When the need arises, a psychiatrist may refer the patient to hospital or community care.

Hospital treatment

A doctor refers you to hospital psychiatric treatment by issuing a referral to the hospital. In justified cases, a patient may come to the hospital without a referral, in which case they will be examined by a medical team in the emergency room and a decision will be made about possible hospitalization. The referral is valid for 14 days from the date of issue.

People may be placed in  hospital without their consent. In accordance with art. 23 of the Mental Health Protection Act, a mentally ill person may be admitted to a psychiatric hospital without consent (...) only if their previous behaviour indicates that due to the disease their own life or the life or health of others is threatened. Based on Article. 24 of this Act, a person whose previous behaviour indicates that ,due to mental disorders, it directly threatens their life or the life or health of others, and there are doubts whether they are mentally ill, can be admitted to  hospital without the required consent  to clarify these doubts . It is also possible to be admitted in a so-called the application mode, e.g. after legal proceedings (Article 29 of the Mental Health Protection Act).

Hospital wards are divided into:

  • inpatient ward
  • day care ward


Psychiatric Day-care Ward

Referral to the Ward is issued by a doctor. Treatment in this ward lasts up to several weeks. It is a form of treatment for patients without indications for rinpatient treatment, for patients after hospitalization as a continuation of treatment, and for those in whom outpatient treatment has not been effective. The main task of the ward is to improve the functioning of patients and their well-being, improve social functioning and self-esteem, activation and help in undertaking social and professional activity. Therapeutic work with patients includes medical and psychological interactions adapted to the current state of the patient and takes place on the basis of a therapeutic community in a small group of patients.

Community treatment

This form of therapy for people suffering from chronic mental disorders is addressed mainly to people:

  • who have completed treatment in inpatient or day-care wards and require further intensive socio-therapeutic, pharmacological and rehabilitation interventions
  • with whom it was not possible to achieve lasting effective cooperation in treatment in the conditions of a hospital ward or outpatient clinic (patients hospitalized many times)
  • they do not persist in other forms of treatment.

Home and outpatient visits are the basic form of contact with the patient. As part of the interactions, the care of various specialists is provided, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist, nurse, environmental therapist and a social worker. Such a team works not only with the patient, but also with their family. If necessary, each professional offers their knowledge and assistance. Team care may be extended to people applying out of their own initiative,  the initiative of the family or managed by public or private healthcare institutions as well as social assistance institutions and other social organizations.

Community Self-Help Centre (ŚDS)

It is a place intended mainly for people undergoing psychiatric treatment or those discharged from  hospital requiring rehabilitation, especially social rehabilitation. Most often it takes the form of a daily stay. It can be administered by social assistance, foundation or association. The aim of such centres is to build a network of social support, prepare for life in the  society and functioning in the community.

Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Care Unit

Patients who do not require hospital treatment, unable to live independently, waiting for a place in a Nursing Home are referred to such a ward. Referral is issued by a psychiatrist or other specialist after consultation with a psychiatrist. A referral is usually required before accepting an application for a place in a Nursing Home. People with dementia and other mental disorders that lead to dependence and the need for care are most often admitted to such departments.

Nursing Home (DPS)

It is a facility for people who, due to an illness (including mental illness), mental retardation, and physical infirmity, are not able to satisfy their life needs on their own, are unable to use other people's care, need constant care and nursing, but do not require hospital treatment. Each doctor (regardless of specialty) may propose and complete the medical part of the application for placement in a Nursing Home.

Crisis intervention

The goal of crisis intervention centres is to provide emergency assistance to people in need. It is a form intended for people in crisis situations, with adaptive disorders, reactive depression. Its purpose is to provide emergency psychological and psychiatric assistance.