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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Patients are evaluated at the Sibley Memorial Hospital Emergency Department for medical clearance before being admitted into the unit. Admissions for inpatient services are accepted 24 hours a day.

  • Physicians, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals may refer a patient. The final decision regarding admission is made by an attending Sibley Hospital psychiatrist. To make a referral, medical professionals may call 202-537-4770, or a patient can present themselves to the Emergency Department for an evaluation.

  • The Behavioral Health Unit is a voluntary unit; therefore all patients must sign a voluntary consent form to be treated. The program does not take involuntary or court committed patients.

  • Commonly seen symptoms for which a person may seek treatment include:
    • Suicidal behavior and/or thoughts of harming self
    • Self-mutilative or assaultive behavior
    • Sleep or eating disturbances
    • Severe agitation
    • Medication noncompliance
    • Severe mood swings
    • Excessive and uncontrolled anger
    • Thought disturbance or distorted perception of reality
  • The program offers a variety of treatment groups, including:
    • Group psychotherapy
    • Coping skills group
    • Goals group
    • Wellness education group
    • Medication education group
    • Art therapy
  • Generally, most patients are treated for a period of seven to 10 days. The length of stay is highly individualized and dependent on a number of factors, including medical needs, placement issues and follow-up care. The goal of the Behavioral Health Unit is to provide all patients with an individualized treatment plan that best suits their particular needs and diagnosis.

  • Please contact your individual insurance provider to inquire if treatment is covered. Many insurance plans are accepted by the hospital. Private insurance companies often cover part or most of the cost of care, as do Medicare and Medicaid.

  • Monday through Friday, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; weekends, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Exceptions to this schedule may be granted through the patient’s physician.

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a relatively new form of depression treatment, first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008. TMS has been clinically proven for the treatment of major depression in adults who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication.

    At Sibley, we have recently switched to a next-generation TMS system, known as deep TMS (or dTMS), which provides TMS treatment in half the time of the previous system. More information about dTMS is available on our Deep TMS page.

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