Friday, May 8, 2015

Getting your loved one help in Tennessee:

In a psychiatric emergency, the more you knowabout your state’s laws and treatment options, the better prepared you will be to respond in the most effective way possible. These resources will help:
Estimated Prevalence of Severe Mental Illness in Tennessee (2014)
  • Total adult population: 5 million
  • Individuals with schizophrenia: ~ 55,000
  • Individuals with severe bipolar disorder: ~ 109,000

Mandatory Treatment Laws in Tennessee

Like every state, Tennessee has civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when involuntary treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who cannot seek care voluntarily. Tennessee is one of only five states that do not authorize involuntary treatment in the community, often called “assisted outpatient treatment (AOT)" or “outpatient commitment.”.
For inpatient treatment, a person must be meet the following criteria:
  • be substantially likely of serious harm, which includes:
    • be unable to avoid severe impairment or injury from specific risks or;
    • place others in reasonable fear of serious physical harm.
Emergency Evaluation C Find relevant statute here
Outpatient Commitment F Find relevant statute here
Inpatient Commitment FFind relevant statute here

Public Psychiatric Beds in Tennessee

A minimum of 50 beds per 100,000 people is considered necessary to provide minimally adequate treatment for individuals with severe mental illness. Like every state, Tennessee fails to meet this minimum standard.
Beds in 2010Beds in 2005Beds lost or gained% of beds lost or gainedBeds per 100,000 people% of target beds neededState ranking in beds per capita

Criminalization of Mental Illness in Tennessee

Like every state in the nation, Tennessee incarcerates more individuals with severe mental illness than it hospitalizes.
Total inmate population 2005Estimated population of SMI inmatesTotal psychiatric inpatient population 2004Likelihood of incarceration vs. hospitalization
43,6786,9882,2213.1 to 1

Criminal Diversion in Tennessee

Criminal justice officials are responding to the criminalization of individuals with innovative programs designed to divert individuals with severe mental illness away from the criminal justice system. Two of the most promising programs are: mental health courts and crisis intervention training (CIT).
Percentage of population served by a mental health courtPercentage of population served by CITCombined averageGrade

Policy Recommendations

  • Stop eliminating public psychiatric beds
  • Restore a sufficient number of beds to create access to inpatient care for qualifying individuals in crisis
  • Make active use of the state’s civil commitment laws to provide more timely treatment to individuals in need of treatment for symptoms of psychiatric crisis and reduce the consequences of non-treatment on them, their families and their communities

Additional Tennessee Resources

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