Research Weekly: How Many Psychiatric Beds Do We Need?

Every day, communities across the country grapple with the shortage of psychiatric treatment beds.

Gaps in treatment options differ place to place, and all psychiatric beds are not created equal. State statutes, local policies, procedures, and financing all dictate who can access what type of bed, when, and for how long. Bed types include public psychiatric beds in state hospitals, psychiatric units in general hospitals, as well as acute care, sub-acute, crisis, and residential beds. Any community could have an adequate supply of one type, but a shortage of another, limiting treatment access for people with severe mental illness who will need multiple forms of care at various stages of their illness.

A research paper by colleagues Richard O’Reilly, Tarun Bastiampiallai and Stephen Allison published earlier this year attempts to address these questions by proposing a novel approach to calculating an appropriate number of psychiatric beds for a given community.

The authors begin by stating that the de-institutionalization movement and the discovery of psychotropic medications have shifted attitudes about the need for inpatient psychiatric treatment and led to a dwindling supply of psychiatric beds throughout the world. And, “in the absence of established targets, funders and administrators generally reduced the numbers of psychiatric beds using a “how low can you go?” approach,” they write.

– Treatment Advocacy Center

Read the full article here.