The Psychiatry Department at Eastern Long Island Hospital is an 23- bed, acute psychiatric unit certified by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Office for Mental Health.

This unit serves patients with mental illness, as well as patients with mental illness and other co-existing diagnosis. As a hospital-based program, the psychiatric unit provides comprehensive care. Our interdisciplinary team approach includes board certified psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, recreation therapists, and registered dietitians. It provides 24 hour nursing care by a team of psychiatric nurses and nursing assistants.

The unit follows a structured approach to allow for individual treatment. A comprehensive education program helps patients better understand their illness and recognize symptoms that may lead to relapse. Psychiatric patients are referred to Eastern Long Island Hospital by private physicians; through the Suffolk County triage system based at Stony Brook University Hospital; or other agencies in the greater metro area.

Assessment for admission can also initiate in the Emergency Department or through transfers from other hospitals.


Psychiatrists are trained as medical doctors and then complete a specialty residency training which includes obtaining skills in different types of psychotherapies.

Clinical experience is also an important factor. There are different forms of individual therapy; there are also group and couples therapies. A psychiatrist can combine therapy with medication management, if drugs are indicated, or only focus on the medication component.

Psychiatrists frequently work in collaboration with other therapists. There are also times when a patient does not wish to participate in formal therapy. Regardless of the arrangement, it is a goal to understand the whole person and establish a relationship of trust and communication.

Douglas K. Hoverkamp, MD,
Director of Psychiatry Diplomate,
American Board of Psychiatry



The lead, Physician on your care team, is a medical doctor who can order medical tests and prescribe medication. It takes many years of education and training to become a psychiatrist. After earning a bachelor's degree, he or she must graduate from medical school and go on to complete four years of residency training in the field of psychiatry.

Other professionals who care for people with mental illness or provide mental health services undergo different types of training whose length and core emphases differ according to the field of study.

Here is a brief summary:

Most clinical psychologists have a master's or doctoral degree; on the doctoral level, the degree is usually a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) or Psy.D. (doctor of psychology, which is not a medical doctor). A psychologist applies psychological principles to the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and developmental disabilities through a broad range of psychotherapies. A psychologist is commonly trained in advanced psychology, abnormal psychology, statistics, testing theory, psychological testing, psychological theory, research methods, psychotherapeutic techniques, and psychosocial evaluation.

Social Worker - Licensed Clinical
A licensed clinical social worker (L.C.S.W.) is also trained in psychotherapy and helps individuals deal effectively with a variety of mental health and daily living problems to improve overall functioning. A social worker usually has a master's degree in social work (M.S.W.). and has studied, among others, sociology, growth and development, mental health theory and practice, human behavior/social environment, psychology, research methods.

Psychiatric Nurse
A psychiatric nurse may have an associate arts, bachelor's, or master's degree in nursing. Much of the psychiatric nurse's specialty training takes place in a hospital inpatient service. Among the services the psychiatric nurse is trained to provide (at the order of a medical doctor) are various patient care services, administration of medication, and other duties commonly performed by nurses, such as immunizations and skin tests.  


Mental illness is an illness that affects or is manifested in a person's brain. It may impact on the way a person thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people.

Each year in the United States, one in five adults is diagnosed with a mental illness.

The term "mental illness" actually encompasses numerous psychiatric disorders, and just like illnesses that affect other parts of the body, they can vary in severity.

Many people suffering from mental illness may not look as though they are ill or that something is wrong, while others may appear to be confused, agitated, or withdrawn. It is a myth that mental illness is a weakness or defect in character and that sufferers can get better simply by "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps." Mental illnesses are real illnesses--as real as heart disease and cancer--and they require and respond well to treatment.

The term "mental illness" is an unfortunate one because it implies a distinction between "mental" disorders and "physical" disorders. Research shows that there is much "physical" in "mental" disorders and vice-versa. For example, the brain chemistry of a person with major depression is different from that of a non-depressed person, and medication can be used (often in combination with psychotherapy) to bring the brain chemistry back to normal.

Similarly, a person who is suffering from hardening of the arteries in the brain--which reduces the flow of blood and thus oxygen in the brain--may experience such "mental" symptoms as confusion and forgetfulness. In the past 20 years especially, psychiatric research has made great strides in the precise diagnosis and successful treatment of many mental illnesses.

Where once mentally ill people were warehoused in public institutions because they were disruptive or feared to be harmful to themselves or others, today most people who suffer from a mental illness--including those that can be extremely debilitating, such as schizophrenia --can be treated effectively and lead full lives.  


In the same way that your family doctor can prescribe medications to help patients with high blood pressure or thyroid problems, psychiatrists can prescribe a number of medications that are effective against mental illnesses such as depression, manic-depression, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. Psychiatrists use medications when thorough evaluation of a patient suggests that medication may correct imbalances in brain chemistry that are thought to be involved in some mental disorders. Psychiatrists usually use medications in combination with psychotherapy.  


Reaching community members with undetected and untreated mental health disorders has never been more important. Studies show that most Americans wait years before they seek treatment for a mental health disorder or many never seek treatment at all.

If you or someone you know is:

  • Feeling persistently down, depressed, hopeless, or helpless
  • No longer interested in activities that once brought pleasure
  • Withdrawn from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious or agitated, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Feeling no sense of purpose or reason to live
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Talking or writing about hurting themselves or suicide

Speak up and reach out. Click here for more resources.