Friday, May 26, 2006

Raising the bar means many will fall

When resources for inpatient psychiatric treatment are scarce, restrictive civil commitment laws raise the bar for everyone. The criteria for hospitalization, voluntary or not, becomes imminent danger. Managed care dictates that for purposes of "cost-effectiveness," immediate psychiatric consultation is only indicated for a "patient who are a danger to him/herself or to others." (more …).

The dearth of inpatient hospital beds around the county has reached crisis proportions. For example, "74% of the states (35) report experiencing shortages in psychiatric beds as a result of hospital downsizing and the closure of general hospital psychiatric beds and private psychiatric hospitals."

Rather than advocacting to improve inpatient care, most mental health "advocates" have tried to make it harder to hospitalize people (through restrictive commitment laws) and to close them down (through litigation). Enough is enough. It is time for a new paradigm of advocacy - one that promotes treatment rather than denial of mental illnesses.