A 2012 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization that works to remove treatment barriers for people with mental illness, found the number of psychiatric beds decreased by 14 percent from 2005 to 2010. That year, there were 50,509 state psychiatric beds, meaning there were only 14 beds available per 100,000 people.
“Many times individuals who really do require intensive psychiatric care find themselves homeless or more and more in prison,” Sisti says. “Much of our mental health care now for individuals with serious mental illness has been shifted to correctional facilities.”
The percentage of people with serious mental illness in prisons rose from .7 percent in 1880 to 21 percent in 2005, according to the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights.
Many of the private mental health hospitals still in operation do not accept insurance and can cost upwards of $30,000 per month, Sisti says. For many low-income patients, Medicaid is the only path to mental health care, but a provision in the law prevents the federal government from paying for long-term care in an institution.
So if a person is found to be a danger to themselves or to others, and there are not enough beds or room at a mental health facility, they get kicked back out onto the street and into the community, right?