Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rest in Peace, Dorthea

(Aug. 28, 2012) A bad situation for the mentally ill in North Carolina has just gotten worse. After a two-decades-long battle, the state shuttered the 156-year-old Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh on August 15.

The hospital’s namesake was a tireless crusader who saw too many individuals with severe mental illness suffering in jails and instead promoted state hospitals as a therapeutic environment. One could only imagine what she would say now.

dorothea-dix-hospital-markerFriends of Dorothea Dix of Wake County (NAMI-Wake County) had something to say. They, too, were tireless crusaders, and they mourned the hospital's passing with an “In Memorial” ad in the Raleigh News and Observer. “For many years, Dorothea Dix Hospital led the way with new ideas, investigational studies, and the newest drug therapies,” the ad read in part. “She embraced change and scrutiny in order to improve care. She is survived by the multitude who entered her door and received and provided care.”

No more.
In just the five years from 2005-2010, North Carolina eliminated nearly half its public psychiatric beds, leaving only eight beds per 100,000 people, one of the lowest per-capita bed populations in the nation and less than one-fifth the beds estimated are necessary for minimally adequate psychiatric care. And that was before this most recent closure.northcarolina
In memory of Dorothea Dix and this namesake hospital, we encourage you to send our study, “No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Psychiatric Hospitals,” to the policy makers and media in your state with a note about the risks and results of closing public hospital beds. 

For more tips on advocacy, visit our Get Involved page.
For more about the closure of Dorothea Dix in North Carolina, read:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

James Holmes: The importance of knowing the signs of mental illness and taking action

James Holmes: The importance of knowing the signs of mental illness and taking action

Doris Fuller, executive director of The Treatment Advocacy Center, outlines many reasons that people with mental illness don’t get the care they need. Some are not surprising: a lack of recognition of the signs and not enough understanding of the solutions. Too many people still believe you can talk people out of their delusions and anxieties without the benefit of professional intervention and medication.
Plus, about 40% of people with bipolar disorder and 50% of people with schizophrenia do not themselves know that they are mentally ill and so will not seek the help they need themselves, Fuller says.
The organization points out that the Aurora could have been averted since according to Colorado law, once someone, like Holmes appears to be a danger to others, which Dr. Fenton determined he was, “any individual aware of his condition could have asked the county court where he lived to order an evaluation of whether he needed to be involuntarily hospitalized for treatment.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hospital Bed Closures Under Fire

(August 1, 2012) Media in multiple states are focusing a spotlight on their state hospitals following the July 19 release of “No Room at the Inn,” an examination of trends and consequences of closing state hospitals. The study found that public psychiatric bed numbers have officially plunged to 1850 levels and provides state-by-state data.
californiaIn California, where state hospitals served 5,283 patients in 2010, down 16% from five years earlier, the Los Angeles Times reports, “The vast majority of those beds, about 92%, now are filled by patients from the criminal justice system and are no longer available for those in need of civil commitment” ("Report calls for more inpatient treatment for the mentally ill," July 19)
LouisianaIn Louisiana, the Times-Picayune reports that “Emergency rooms continue to be overwhelmed, and the jails are inundated with mental health patients who committed a crime, often as a result of not getting adequate care. The community-based services that do exist have waiting lists and must often raise the bar on how sick one must be to get served” ("The insanity of mental health care," July 26). 
maineIn Maine, the state’s Public Broadcasting Network reports that “Sheriff's deputies were forced to guard the inmate in the emergency room at Eastern Maine Medical Center around the clock since last Friday evening, while waiting for a forensic bed to open up at the Riverview Psychiatric Center. Maine, like most states across the country, faces a chronic shortage of beds for mentally ill prisoners” ("Shortage of Beds for Mentally Ill Prisoners Poses a Problem," Aug. 1). 
maineIn Alabama, the Birmingham News quotes Kristina Ragosta, a senior legislative and policy counsel at the Treatment Advocacy Center, "Although the study indicates that Alabama has indeed added some beds, they still had less than half the beds recommended—23.4 versus the 50 per 100,000 recommended" ("Psychiatric beds dwindle nationally," July 26).
MichiganAnd, in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press ran a spot-on editorial about the hospital bed shortage we blogged about in "What's Bad for Michigan is Just as Bad for Others" (July 24). 
You can help turn the heat up on policy makers intent on closing hospital beds where you live. “No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals” contains public hospital bed data for every state. Help us get the word out about the devastating trends and consequences in hospital bed populations:
  • See where your state ranks on our website dedicated to Treatment Advocacy Center research.
  • Send a link to the complete study to reporters, editors and/or producers local newspaper or TV/radio station and say, “The people in our community need to know what’s happening to state hospital beds here and what the consequences are.”
  • Send the link to the study online to the editorial page editor of your local newspaper and suggest, “Please look at this study and consider seconding the call for a moratorium on state hospital bed closures.” Include the link to the Detroit Free Press editorial as an example. 
  • Print a copy of the study in its downloadable form and send it to your governor, state legislator, state mental health director and/or others in a position to determine the fate of state hospital beds in your state and ask them to consider the consequences of closing more public psychiatric beds and heed the call for a moratorium.
  • Visit the Advocacy Tools page at
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