Do we need more psychiatric hospital beds, and what sort of beds are needed for people with serious mental illness?

Clinicians and families often state that hospital beds are hard to find when people with serious mental illness (SMI) need them. For example, people with SMI can be homeless, at risk for homelessness, unable to care for themselves in the community, doing poorly clinically or at risk to themselves or others. There are calls for, “more beds.” This issue is complicated because there are actually a wide range of residential and hospital facilities that can be appropriate for patients with SMI. What do we mean by “beds”? What types of beds are needed: acute, transitional, rehabilitative, long-term or other? Are there differences in the needs of different age groups – youth, adults, older persons – and diagnoses that need to be reflected in the bed composition? The National Association of Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) convened experts and produced recommendations on this topic. This webinar addresses these questions and offers public policy recommendations for reducing the human and economic costs associated with serious mental illness by building and invigorating a robust, interconnected, evidence based system of care that goes beyond beds. The achievable outcome is that people with serious mental illness have access to the same levels of care that individuals with other medical conditions already commonly experience and obstacles to such treatment are removed.

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