photo of Arlington Day Treatment Center yard

Reader Questions About Mental Illness

We would like to know how many hours a day would a new client entering the program can use the basketball hoop near the house? I understand the clients leave the house in the morning and come back at 4 pm. Does this then imply that in the winter months, they would only have one hour (from 4 to 5 pm before it gets dark) to play basketball? Are they expected to help with chores from 4 pm to 7 pm like cooking or can they exercise the entire time (say play hoop) if they chose to do so?

Yes, due to daylight savings time, the window to play basketball is shortened. However, they can always play in the mornings prior to going to the ADTC. Also, we have active outings during the day so they get exercise at those times and on select evenings we will go to SBCC and use the track which is well lit and clients can exercise then. In addition, we schedule other various evening outings throughout the week that allow our clients to exercise. The chores rotate every week so only the cook's helper would be busy from 5-6 as they are making the meals with staff for the house. The other chores are roughly 15-25 minutes long (depending upon the one that is assigned to the client in a given week) thus clients can have time to exercise once those chores are completed.

Can you please explain the Phase system. From what I understand the incoming clients start in Phase 1. What does it mean in terms of their freedom to do things in their first 30 days. Can they leave the house on their own? Or do they have to be always accompanied by others.

A client must go out with a staff member while on Level 1. This allows the client to get accustomed to the community and for all of us to get acquainted with one another.  Once the client achieves Level 2, they can continue to go into the community with us and also go into the community with other clients who are on Levels 3 and 4.  Once the client achieves level 3 or  higher, they can go out alone or with other clients on Level 2.

How does one progress from Phase 1 in the program to Phase 4? what kind of reward/incentives do you have in place? How does one move from phase 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and 3 to 4? And what makes one go back down from one phase to a lower one?

We have a copy of our Level System available here (a link is also located on the Programs > Sanctuary House page, on the right-hand side). On the 5th page of the Level System, there is a quick overview of all of the levels and what they entail.  The other pages in the document explain the responsibilities and privileges of each of the levels.  Clients move upward in levels by completing the responsibilities for the time allotted to each level (page 5 outlines the minimum number of days). The loss of a level is generally related to a continuous disregard for the responsibilities of that level.  We attempt to counsel clients to ascertain why they are not meeting the responsibilities and this is usually enough to get them to refocus on the tasks and remain on level. Losing a status is a very individual situation and a variety of factors must be taken into account so this is always discussed with the clients. The families are also informed should this have to occur.

I know the age range you accept, but will our son have any peers in the residential program?

We get asked this question a lot. The ages of our clients fluctuate as clients graduate and new clients arrive. However, none of our clients are ever without a "peer group." The residential clients participate in groups with other outpatient clients from each of our programs. The clients in our COD program (those receiving treatment for both alcohol and mental health issues) tend to be a mix of males and females of varying ages while the majority of outpatient clients at the Arlington Day Treatment Program are older. Also, each of our Sanctuary House clients are highly involved in a variety of community activities like returning to school, participating in volunteer programming or even paid positions which allows them to mingle with their peer grouping in the local community even if clients at Sanctuary House are older or younger than your son. All of this provides each client with numerous opportunities to be with others near their age. Additionally, we have observed that our younger clients always benefit from the wisdom of our older clients while our older clients benefit from the energy and vibrancy of our younger clients. In the end it is a wonderful blending of experience that enhances their time here at Sanctuary.

One of our family members is very ill. If there were a turn for the worse would our daughter be able to come to be with us during this critical time?

This has happened to other clients at Sanctuary House and our belief is that a client should be with his or her family at these crucial moments. SCSB and the family, with input from the client, will discuss what would be needed and beneficial for all involved at which point the client will most certainly be allowed to attend whatever the family thinks is appropriate.

What sort of physical activity would our son get (and how regularly)? His Mom is concerned that he lives a very sedentary life and needs to have regular exercise (preferably 45 minutes per day) in order to lose weight

Roughly 90% of our clients join a gym within the first 30 days. Some also look into the benefits of hiring a personal trainer which we feel gives our clients the highest probability of achieving their fitness goals and maintaining consistent exercise appropriate to their schedules and fitness level. At SCSB we work very hard to improve a client's physical as well as mental health. We have groups on nutrition that they attend as well as walking and hiking groups that cater to all fitness levels and allow clients to keep their own pace and build stamina as they progress in the group. Regular weekday and/or weekend outings that have enjoyable exercise (beach walks, pier walks, etc.) built in are also integral to our program and easily accessible to our clients in the unique setting of Santa Barbara. He would get regular exercise from those groups/outings as well as things he could do with others in the evenings and weekends. One thing that we also do is integrate regular times for exercise into a client's schedule based on their current health and fitness level and then increase those times and activities slowly in a way that encourages progress but does not dampen enthusiasm.

Are there any physical disorders that have the same symptoms as anxiety?

Anxiety can be produced by a wide range of physical and psychological issues. It is important to have regular physical examinations and explain your symptoms to your medical doctor. This will be helpful in detecting or ruling out physiological causes of anxiety.

Are there any good self help products available to the public such as (audio or books) on anxiety?

There are many, many good books and audiotapes available. It is always important to remember that it is your motivation to resolve stress in your life that will ultimately help you to combat anxiety, and not a particular book or product that you acquire. If you want to become anxiety free, we recommend that you start with a basic, inexpensive book on stress management.

What are the affects of marijuana on schizophrenia? Are hallucinations and delusions worse?

Using non-prescribed drugs can always be a risk, especially when taking anti-psychotic medications. Our experience is that marijuana tends to have a double effect - it intensifies symptoms (hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions) and also counteracts the effects of anti-psychotic medications.

What kinds of counseling/therapy generally work best with individuals who are diagnosed with schizophrenia?

The most effective treatment for schizophrenia seems to be a combination of techniques which include effective medication management, social rehabilitation involving skill building, communications training and family therapy along with cognitive/behavioral and behavioral methods. Most important is to find professionals who are experienced, flexible, and open to utilizing a variety of options.   

If your question has not been addressed above, please send us your question.