• Steve Muehler

Steve Muehler's Plan to Increase the Number of State Funded Psychiatric Hospitals

Almost everyone living in any major city in the United States has had an encounter with a person in public that clearly needed be be under the care of a psychiatric hospital, but was probably let loose into the community because (1) there was no ability for that person, or their family, to afford the costs of a private psychiatric hospital, and/or (2) the person was not showing any threat to the safety of them self or anyone around them, so there was nothing that law enforcement could do.

And as a society, especially where I live in California, the problem is completely out of control, and maybe at this point, a publicly funded psychiatric hospital sounds like a good idea — BUT, as long as it isn’t what they were known for back in the 1950s and 1960s.

The closing of psychiatric hospitals began during those decades and has continued since; today, there are very few left, with about 11 state psychiatric hospital beds per 100,000 people. That’s the same ratio we had in 1850, according to a 2012 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Under my Administration, we will explore the options of dramatically increasing the number of State Funded Psychiatric Hospitals throughout the United States, with the number of available beds being determined by an independent panel of experts, and on a state-by-state basis.

The question about increasing the number of Government Funded Psychiatric Beds drew a standing-room-only crowd at Fountain House, a nonprofit community and social services center for the seriously mentally ill in New York City, where a panel of experts discussed the issue. The question exists within the context of a mental health crisis in the United States, and the related statistics are disturbing:

  • Having serious mental illness, such as bipolar disease or schizophrenia, will shorten your lifespan by 25 years. This is not because of suicide, but because many health issues (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, smoking) go untreated in the mentally ill, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

  • In nearly every U.S. state, people with serious mental illness are more likely to be jailed than sent to a hospital. In 2014, the number of mentally ill people behind bars was 10 times that of patients in state psychiatric hospitals, according to a study by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit based in Arlington, VA.

  • Some jails are inhumane for mentally ill people, and they are extremely costly. Incarceration can cost about $35,000 per healthy person per year and as much as $100,000 per unhealthy person per year.

  • One quarter of mentally ill people are homeless, according to NAMI. Some are discharged directly from jails, emergency rooms and mental hospitals to the streets.

  • Only about 63 percent of adults with serious mental illness received mental health services in the past year, NAMI says.

To treat this rising crisis it is time for serious consideration of evaluating growing the number of State Funded Psychiatric Hospitals. Some experts argue for re-instituting mental health/psychiatric asylums — though the word “asylum” is loaded. In the strict sense of the word, asylums are meant to be places of safety and sanctuary. But for most people, the term conjures images of some of the worst state psychiatric hospitals of America’s past, including lobotomies, electric shock treatments and restraints for people locked up against their will.

My Administration will in no way be in favor of bringing back the old asylums. Instead, we will look to create compassionate places where people with mental illness can heal and return to society. Under my Administration this would become a reality.

Steve Muehler is the Founder & Managing Member of the Private Placement Markets:

About Mr. Steve Muehler, Founder & Senior Managing Member:

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© 2017 by Mr. Steven J. Muehler