A severe shortage of psychiatric beds across the country is causing a multitude of issues for patients, communities and healthcare providers. In fact, hospital emergency rooms have become the first point of contact to many of those with an acute behavioral need. This delays effective treatment and can present a burden and safety issue for both hospital staff and patients, as ERs are not designed or equipped to “board” mental health patients.
But there is good news. Many hospitals and healthcare systems are making bold attempts to not only provide more beds, but also to focus on providing safer healing environments.
Eighteen percent of the American population experience a diagnosable mental disorder annually, according the Mental Health Illness Policy Organization. While figures vary by state, an article by the Pew Trust organization estimates the nationwide psychiatric bed shortage to be more than 120,000.
The bed shortage also takes a heavy toll on those who need treatment. When forced to seek assistance in ERs rather than specially equipped psychiatric facilities, individuals with mental health or behavioral issues may have to endure a stressful hospital environment for days or even weeks as they wait to find space in an appropriate facility.
The healthcare industry, including certifying agencies and healthcare providers, has taken note and are taking action. This action includes anti-ligature updates for walls, ceilings, doors and windows, lighting and MEP fixtures.
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