Monday, May 07, 2007

Are you kidding?

The head of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards (VACSB), which represents the 40 community mental health agencies in Virginia told the Washington Post that these mental health agencies are only responsible for a person committed to outpatient care by a judge "if he seeks treatment. But we can't give him treatment if he refuses it."

That’s like a state psychiatric hospital deciding “we can only commit a patient to the hospital if they knock on the door and ask to be admitted.” Of course, that would never happen because the hospitals know how to help people who are too sick to seek or accept treatment voluntarily – that’s what they do.

Unfortunately, Virginia has closed 50% of its state psychiatric hospital beds over the last 20 years. In the most recent closure, as much as $22M of state hospital funds that had been used for patients needing involuntary services was “reinvested” in community service boards that want to provide only voluntary services.

That is unacceptable. Community agencies must serve the most severely ill. At a minimum, they should serve individuals found to be an imminent danger. If the CSBs refuse to establish involuntary services, give the money back to the hospitals so these patients have somewhere to go for help!

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