Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Biloxi blues - setting the bar low

The study The Shortage of Public Hospital Beds for Mentally Ill People performed by the Treatment Advocacy Center is complete and the results are dismal. Since 1955, the number of public psychiatric beds across America has dropped from 340 per 100,000 people to 17 per 100,000 people. There is now a shortage of nearly 100,000 public psychiatric beds in the United States.

A panel of experts concluded every state should have at least 50 public psychiatric beds per 100,000 people to meet minimum acceptable standards. That assumes that all other mental health services are optimum.

The one very small silver lining in this dark gray cloud is that Mississippi, of all states, meets the minimum standard of 50 beds per 100,000. Every other state fell short, and most fell very short. In the last census, Mississippi ranked last among all states in per capita income. If a state as resource poor as Mississippi can meet the minimum number of public psychiatric beds, then what possible excuse can the other 49 states have?

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