Report From American Psychiatric Association Addresses Psychiatric Bed Crisis in the U.S.; Explores New Model to Determine Community Needs
Washington, D.C., Aug. 16, 2022 — As the nation continues to navigate an ongoing mental health crisis, a new report from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Psychiatric Bed Crisis in the U.S.: Understanding the Problem and Moving Toward Solutions, provides an assessment of the current problem of the lack of access to psychiatric beds and proposes a new model for estimating the needs within a community.
Access to inpatient psychiatric beds undergirds local mental health systems, providing essential services to help treat adults or young people who are experiencing mental illness, just like inpatient medical hospitalization serves the most acutely ill. Today communities have no effective means to assess how many beds they need to meet the demand in their population. Too often, psychiatric inpatient beds are not available when needed and people with mental illnesses end up boarding in emergency departments or being discharged prematurely.
The report is the work of the APA Presidential Task Force on Assessment of Psychiatric Bed Needs in the United States, created in 2020 by APA's then-President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., and led by APA Past President Anita Everett, M.D. It is separated into seven sections, including historical context, definitions, financing, population factors and special populations, community factors, children and adolescents, and the development of the model concept.
“The work has to begin locally to take on a problem as complex as access to mental health, but without a true understanding of existing community services, progress is difficult,” said Everett. “Determining the number of beds needed in a locality must include consideration of community services that could prevent the need for inpatient care, and this report took the expertise of many leaders in the field to comprehensively document all the factors that impact that number. The report offers a model policymakers can follow in making the choices to meet the needs of adults and children with mental illness.”
“APA Presidential Task Force on Assessment of Psychiatric Bed Needs in the United States took on a complex, challenging problem in our field,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “The Task Force will help ensure we are better serving patients in the future with access to needed mental health care.”
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.