Inpatient vs Outpatient: Mental Health Treatment

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Understand the difference between inpatient vs outpatient mental health treatment so you can make the most informed decision when it comes to treating yourself or a loved one. It’s challenging enough to deal with a mental illness on a daily basis. Trying to find the right treatment program for you can feel overwhelming. Do you need inpatient care or will outpatient care be enough? 

Renewal Oasis understands the importance of making the right choice between inpatient vs outpatient mental health treatment and will help you determine which one suits your needs. We offer both options and will talk to you prior to admission to match you with the level of care that will meet your unique needs. This allows you to get started immediately and begin to heal your mental health.

Difference Between Inpatient vs Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

The main difference between inpatient vs outpatient mental health treatment is where the person stays. An inpatient program, much like residential treatment, requires the individual to move into a facility for a set amount of time. Most programs advise a stay of 30 days or longer. This depends on the type and severity of the mental health disorder and what symptoms the person experiences. An outpatient treatment program allows the person to live in their own home or supportive housing and travel to the facility for their treatment sessions. Recommended time in treatment varies according to the level of outpatient care. Most people do well participating for 30-60 days, although more can be scheduled if needed.

An inpatient program provides the housing elements one would have at home. This includes a bed, often as part of a private bedroom, a bathroom, and common areas for all residents to gather in. Meals will be provided and housekeeping services are usually included. While the amenities offered vary depending on the program, some inpatient programs provide a swimming pool, supervised outings, and other entertainment options.

Outpatient programs do not need to provide overnight accommodations because the people attending them do not live in the facility. For those attending day-long therapy sessions, lunch and snacks are often provided. 

Similarities of Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

While there are definite differences between inpatient vs outpatient mental health treatment, they also have similarities. Both types of programs exist to help people who have mental health disorders and need structured treatment. They both offer multi-disciplinary types of therapy to meet the specific needs exhibited by people with several kinds of mental illnesses. The therapies range from one-on-one to group therapy and often include options like family therapy and holistic therapies. Therapies that began in inpatient care can be continued in outpatient programs so that treatment goals can still be met even when transitioning to a new level of care. 

Another similarity between inpatient and outpatient care is the use of mental health medications. People who struggle with poor mental health often benefit from finding the right type of medication that helps minimize their symptoms and gives them more control. Both inpatient and outpatient clinicians offer an array of medications and supervise the person’s usage of them. Any necessary changes in dosage or types of medication can be made.

How to Decide Between Outpatient vs Inpatient Treatment for Mental Health

Deciding between inpatient vs outpatient mental health treatment requires thinking about what a person’s specific needs are and how to meet them. A program’s admissions staff will discuss each person’s diagnosis and ask them questions to help determine whether they should attend outpatient or inpatient care. 

Questions to ask that can help you make a decision include:

  • Am I able to step away from my home life, career, or education long enough to live in a facility?
  • Do I have a stable home life or an option for supportive housing that will allow me to attend daytime sessions without having to move into a facility?
  • Have I tried outpatient care before and found it wasn’t enough?
  • Do I need 24/7 care to help me make initial progress and reduce my symptoms? 
  • Am I stable enough to attend daytime therapy sessions and not need additional night-time support?
  • Has a physician, therapist, or other mental health expert recommended one type of treatment over another one?


A consultation with a treatment program can help you understand your specific needs and how to get them met.

Contact Our Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health Treatment Center in California

Are you in need of mental health care or know someone who needs it? You may be confused by the myriad options available, including the basic question of whether or not you need inpatient vs outpatient mental health treatment. Renewal Oasis doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to caring for someone’s mental health. We talk to you and determine your diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment goals. This allows us to recommend the right level of care and help you get enrolled in our treatment program quickly. We offer a wide variety of multi-disciplinary therapies and options for prescription medications.

Do you want to talk to someone about how best to meet your needs for mental health treatment? Contact us now and we can help you make this all-important decision and get on the road to healing.