I work in a mental hospital, AMAA!
I'm 30, F, and work in a state hospital in California and have for the past 5 years. I've also worked in other group homes, step down programs,and summer camp like environments for all kinds of populations ranging from autistic kids to hospice care for the dying.
First of all, I speak for myself and of my experiences, and don't speak for my employer in any way. I'll also change some details of any stories I share just enough to protect patient confidentiality.
State hospitals are modern day mental hospitals. I am a licensed psychiatiric technician, which means trained in basic nursing (I can administer medications, render CPR, breathing treatments, handle feeding tubes, give insulin, injections, draw blood, do sterile procedures, etc.) but I am also trained in crisis management and have a background in psychology, some needed for my job and additional training because I'm interested. It is not labeled as a prison but it functions similar to one. 75% (estimate) of the population of patients are labeled criminally insane, behind a barbed wire fence and police presence. These usually fall into two categories, those who plead guilty by reason of insanity and are serving their time or those who are mentally incompetent to stand trial and we are attempting to restore them to competency so they can go to trial in the first place. Their trial outcome could be regular jail or prison. 25% are civil commitments, meaning anything from being on a conservatorship, a 5150 hold, drug OD, severe dementia/brain trauma, etc.
Every day is very structured - very similar to prison life but the patients have a few more freedoms. Most are on mandatory medications. Staff members wear alarms, which are GPS monitored and send an immediate signal to police when activated. We also wear a backup whistle. The majority of conflict is patient/patient or patient/self, but there are attacks on staff. It is a hospital, not a prison, so the hospital police do not carry guns. I believe they carry pepper spray but I have never seen it need to be used. I have seen medications and therapy work, and I have seen numerous patients become completely different people, be released, and fully integrate back into the community.
I have seen a lot, and not all of it is negative.
I currently work with the 25% that are civil commitments, mostly doing medical work but I have worked in both areas. AMAA!
I sent proof of my ID to the mods and was verified, I just have to keep this confidential!