As what I feel and predict will go from a quiet common state governmental call to action to hard pressed and at times, downright stingy state legislators, Gov. Sununu of New Hampshire has gone quite public in his urgent call for the establishment of inpatient acute state hospital psychiatric beds. This might seem like not so big a deal but I expect that this will become more and more frequent as the acuity of the public deficit in the capabilities to the now overflowing needs in many states overwhelmed by the numbers of chronically mentally ill.
In an article published of all places in the New Hampshire newspaper, The Portland Press Herald, April 21,2017 entitled “New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu calls for more beds at psychiatric hospital,” the Governor publicly declared again but more emphatically the need for major figures in the state government agencies, especially the Dept. of Health and Human Services to mount a rapid effort with short-term corrections, which I guess means “more beds please,” and a long-term realistic plan to address the mental health crises for treatment service delivery in the state. I think that this is noteworthy because it represents a growing trend that has finally burst into the open. However reluctant many governors have been in confronting this issue, I think that more will come out of their legislative closets and start trumpeting the needs for such actions. It has already started in such states as Texas and especially Washington state where Gov. Jay Inslee has been focusing on acute state public mental health issues as much or than any other state chief executive except the Governor and the Virginia’s two year old oversight committee on mental health issues with some of the most comprehensive and innovative programs in the country except perhaps my own state of North Carolina which has worked on these issues very quietly (in spite of HB2 ‘bathroom law’ distraction.
I apologize for this dated article and reference, but it reminds us all again of a problem linked to the overall policy and planning malfeaseance committed by mental health planners, bureaucrats, policty wonks, legistlators from the state to federal levels, in pursuing the idiotic policy of closure of psychiatric inpatient treatment beds and resources in the publich AND private areans. That error, is of course, one of the triads of haunting reminders of our big “boo-boo” of turning mentally ill out of treatment facilities too early, not having beds for them and not providing even a fraction of the known needed “community based resources,” and that is patients stuck in ERs around the country for days. This article came from the online edition of WXYZ News of Detroit MI, a state that was one of the earlies states to undertake “mental health reforom” under then Gov. John Engler in the decade of the 1990’s. This aticle was published in June, 2015 and showed that nearly 15 years after the start of mental health refrom in Michigan, children were STILL waiting indeterminate periods of time for a child psychiatric bed to open up for their needed attention. In crisis, mentally ill boys and girls are waiting days for a hospital bed.