Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Number of state psychiatric beds dropped 13% since 2010; many states facing 'critical shortage'

A "critical shortage of state psychiatric beds is forcing mentally ill patients with severe symptoms to be held in emergency rooms, hospitals and jails while they wait for a bed, sometimes for weeks," Michael Ollove reports for Stateline. (Stateline graphic)

The U.S. currently has 37,679 psychiatric beds, a 13 percent drop from 43,318 beds in 2010. The current average is 11.7 beds per every 100,000 people, with Iowa only averaging two beds per every 100,000 people, three and a half in Minnesota and four in Vermont.

Some of the biggest drops in the number of psychiatric beds are in states with large rural populations. Alabama has 383 beds, down from 1,119 in 2010. Iowa dropped from 149 to 64, Kansas from 705 to 451, Louisiana from 903 to 616, Mississippi from 1,156 to 486, Missouri from 1,332 to 874 and Vermont from 52 to 25.

"Mental health advocates, attorneys and judges say the practice, known as psychiatric boarding, prevents patients from getting the care they need," Ollove writes. "Instead, such patients are sometimes strapped down or held in isolation, and often receive little or no mental health services. But the problem, which many blame on budget cuts and a shortage of psychiatrists and nurses, won’t be easy to solve. By one count, the nation needs an additional 123,300 psychiatric hospital beds."

No comments: