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One obligation of public mental health systems is to ensure sufficient capacity in the range of services that persons with serious mental illness may need. Historically, states relied heavily on psychiatric inpatient beds as the primary method of care. With the expansion of community-based services over the past forty years, the utilization of hospital-based inpatient beds has decreased significantly. Years of experience delivering
community-based behavioral health care have proven that most people with a diagnosed mental illness never require hospitalization, and many with the most serious conditions can be successfully treated in the community. There is now a general consensus that a stronger continuum of community-based services results in less demand for psychiatric inpatient beds.
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