Confiscating patient phones on psychiatric wards

4 Jun
My photograph of an Olympic Park telephone box, July 2012

My photograph of an Olympic Park telephone box, July 2012

Some thoughts on the confiscation of patients’ phones on psychiatric wards, prompted by the fact someone found my blog yesterday by searching the term, “If you are in a psychiatric ward do they confiscate cell phones or computers”.

I’ll work the twitter conversation up into a proper blog post when I have time, and then publicise it. In the meantime, it’s here as a repository for some thoughts of mine and thought-provoking responses of others.


web links 5.



8 Responses to “Confiscating patient phones on psychiatric wards”

  1. releasing lunacy 6 June 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I read through some of your tweets. In the U.S. in the crisis stabilization unit (psych ward of local hospital) where I’ve been three times, they confiscate personal property. Security staff provides you with a bag for your wallet, jewelry, phones, etc. When you’re discharged, you get the bag back, make sure everything is inside and sign for it. I’ve never been in a long-term facility, so I don’t know how it works there.

    To be honest, I’m fine with staff taking cell phones away. With phones today, you can’t always tell when someone is taking a picture. I would be livid if I ever learned someone took my picture while I was hospitalized, since so often pictures get posted online. We have a community phone people use to make calls, and it actually works out okay (one phone for about 15-18 people, but it works fine).

    I think with electronics and valuables, where I live, it’s more a matter of eliminating the headaches of people’s property getting damaged or stolen as well as patient privacy.

    Now, taking my teddy bear away from me was inexcusable! 😡

    Take care,

    • gfloyd 24 September 2015 at 1:08 am #

      I’m against psyche units/hospitals not allowing cell phones considering that patients in other, non-psyche hospitals/units, have access to cell phones. Treating psyche patients differently from non-psyche patients further stigmatizes mental health patients. Payphones, free to use or not, are not a panacea for not having access to one’s phone because some patients stay on the phones much longer than they are supposed to use them. I hold the same opinion for patients in detox or rehab.

  2. Morag 4 March 2014 at 1:22 am #

    It’s simple an abuse of power. We as a society are so reliant on the internet and phones, yet once you are admitted to hospital this form of communication is forbidden and you are made to feel like a criminal or insane for questioning this or trying to retain your phone.

    This effectively means many people are completely cut off from their friends and family, as not everyone is local enough to receive visitors. Depriving people of relationships at a point where such stability and retention of friendships is vital is simply wrong.

    • Morag 4 March 2014 at 1:24 am #

      Just to add, it wasn’t uncommon to see mobile phones used by staff so that devalues the argument of no phones/camera access allowed.

    • Perry Elizabeth 19 March 2014 at 6:56 am #

      Many times friends and family are the problem and the reason they are admitted so keeping them from their phones where they might interact with them is understandable.

  3. acd 20 October 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Two months after being released from a Mental Facility, I had a severe reaction to the drugs that the gave me. I was told that I was starting to get serotonin syndrome. How can a patient give informed consent medications, when they hand you that form to sign? There is no computer access. You are at the mercy of the doctors judgment. I am in need of hospitalization again, but will never trust a medication without checking it out myself !!!

  4. Will Hall 26 April 2018 at 9:16 pm #

    Phone cameras can be covered with a sticker under threat of confiscation if the sticker is removed.

    There is no excuse for the harmful and degrading policy of denying patients phone rights.

  5. Annette 23 June 2019 at 10:49 am #

    My son has been sectioned he has been able to keep his phone. We have asked to have phone confiscated but under his human rights he’s aloud to keep it. We have complained to hospital , police and Facebook .
    I can’t tell you the heartache and distress that this is doing to me and my family.
    Having my sons breakdown over Facebook, not of sound mind texting feelings and about people.
    I’m begging people to block and delete his posts.
    People would rather argue with him then realise he’s very ill.
    Thank you for reading it’s helped me to talk about it.. please take phones away from patients the consequences are damaging.

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