Archive for Friday, August 27, 2010

Overcrowded mental hospitals limit admissions

August 27, 2010


— Overcrowded conditions have forced officials to shut the doors to voluntary admissions at state mental health hospitals on two occasions.

Mental health advocates, lobbying for more funding for psychiatric programs, said the suspension of voluntary admissions could cause big problems.

“We are pressing our luck,” said Mike Hammond, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas Inc.

Roy Menninger, president of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, said cutting off Kansans from being able to voluntarily admit themselves to a state psychiatric hospital will worsen their condition and put themselves at risk of harm or even death.

“Please don’t make any further cuts,” Menninger asked the Legislative Budget Committee.

Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Secretary Don Jordan said the agency had to delay voluntary admissions from May 19 to May 26 and July 16 to July 20 because the state’s hospitals were over capacity.

Those facilities include Osawatomie State Hospital, Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City, Kan., and Larned State Hospital Psychiatric Services Program. Combined, the three facilities can have approximately 305 people on a daily basis. Jordan ordered delays in voluntary admissions when the hospitals were at 332 and 328.

“Extremely high census jeopardizes patient and staff safety,” he said.

SRS has been hammered with budget cuts over the past two years as state revenues dipped during the recession.

Rick Cagan, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Kansas, said the state hospitals are “starved for resources.” The cost of providing care to those with mental illness is being pushed onto the criminal justice system, he said.

“There are four to five times as many individuals with serious mental illness in our jails and prisons in Kansas than we have licensed bed capacity in our state mental health hospitals,” he said.


Maddy Griffin 7 years ago

"The cost of providing care to those with mental illness is being pushed onto the criminal justice system." So, if there's no available bed at the hospital they put them on the street and wait for them to break the law? I remember when LMH closed it's psychiatric ward a few years back, I'm beginning to understand more abut the homelessness(?) problem in our town.

izzybear 7 years ago

finally some one is begining to hear and understand the real problems

Mike Ford 7 years ago

they will go where every Tea Party Member should be. In an insane Assylum.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Hey, no problem. They can just live on the streets of Lawrence (and other towns.)

trinity 7 years ago

gramma you are exactly right. far too many folks with serious "issues" are in the corrections system on all levels...people who truly have the potential to be very dangerous. i know nobody likes the notion of a psyche unit, etc-but the reality is, for some it is simply necessary.

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

A good reminder that 90%+ of the state budget is pre-k--college education and social services. This is what smaller government looks like.

denak 7 years ago

mmmmmmm yes because a literate populace is a bad thing.

seriouscat 7 years ago

"There are four to five times as many individuals with serious mental illness in our jails and prisons in Kansas than we have licensed bed capacity in our state mental health hospitals,"


I have struggled with mental health issues in myself and my family. I am so grateful that none of them have ever been terribly serious or debilitating...I can't imagine how painful it must be for people who need help, seek out help, and get rejected. I can't imagine being a parent who struggles for years to deal with a mentally ill child, with little to no help from the community, and see that child end up in jail. Seems like the only government financed institutions that keep their doormat out during tough times are the jails.

How far down must we spiral before we hit rock bottom?

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years ago

Apparently, cat, we have farther to go, still.

Scott Drummond 7 years ago

Citizens United ensures that we have much further to sink. In addition to the ongoing assult of the mainstream corporate media, you can expect significant efforts to kill off the idea of public education, environmental protections and national parks. All socialists ideas in the minds of the righties and standing in the way of their designs to convert wealth held by the public to private lucre.

ralphralph 7 years ago

It is now considered more "humane" to have the mentally ill live in doorways and under bridges than in the "confinement" of climate-controlled institutions with medical care and a balanced diet.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

Do you notice what is missing about this story of a presentation to the Legislative Budget Committee?

Any comments from legislators.

Perhaps they sat and played their fiddles while these presentations were going on.

Jimo 7 years ago

Endless money for prisons but none for hospitals.

You raise the revenues necessary to pay for your commitments (unless you're smart enough to set aside money during good times rather than cut taxes and then cut them again).

Scott Drummond 7 years ago

And if you define the crimes in the correct way......

SWJayhawk13 7 years ago

What happens is that the mentally ill who try to admit themselves get sent back home (or as some have pointed out, on the streets) until they end up doing something to get themselves involuntarily committed (or sometimes incarcerated), or they end up waiting at least a month to get into Bert Nash, none of which are good options.

It is really sad that when someone is in crisis, the only options they have for getting inpatient psychiatric help is to either be involuntarily committed or get locked up in jail. The state's mental health budget was slashed tremendously and mental health consumers are the ones suffering because of it. When the mental health agencies had their budgets cut, they were forced to lay people off, meaning it takes longer for people to get in to be seen. In turn, some of these people will end up in crisis, and when they try to admit themselves, the hospitals are so overcrowded that they can't take them unless they have been involuntarily committed. No one should have to attempt suicide to get the help they need.

I don't know what the solution is, but something needs to be done.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Well, we could flush $trillions on pointless foreign wars and create thousands of vets with PTSD.

Oh, wait, that's what we're already doing.

izzybear 7 years ago

the solution is go to not only state government but the feds as well if those in office wll not do something let's elect people who will. crime and homlessnes went up when the feds closed all of the halfway houses for the mentally challanged. the jails will not be as full so no need to build more and homlessness will drop. it is all about what we as the nation want. do we want jails or help for our people?

Carol Bowen 7 years ago

Mental illness is not necessarily the only reason for homelessness, but it probably is a major reason. And then ....... we treat homelessness as an embarrassment.

DillonBarnes 7 years ago

This is one of our societies biggest embarrassments, IMO. It's bread mostly out of misunderstanding about mental disabilities and how they affect someone. To many would rather "sweep them under the rug" than really address the issue.

notajayhawk 7 years ago

“There are four to five times as many individuals with serious mental illness in our jails and prisons in Kansas than we have licensed bed capacity in our state mental health hospitals,” he said.

This is true, and it's not a good situation. It's also very misleading.

More than half the population of the country will meet the criteria for some disorder listed in the DSM at some point in their lives (and the new version, due out soon, will reportedly have close to double the number of diagnosable disorders). Most of those people are the people you live with, work with, go to school with every day. Of course there are a lot of them in the prisons, there are a lot of them in the general population, and not all of them need or deserve inpatient care.

SWJayhawk13 7 years ago

But those who DO need inpatient care shouldn't be turned away unless they are involuntarily committed. Yes, there are many people that will meet the criteria for some type of disorder, and as you've pointed out, not all of them need inpatient care. But for those with severe mental illnesses, inpatient treatment could be their lifeline. The LA county jail is the largest mental health facility in the country. To me, that seems problematic.

notajayhawk 7 years ago

Mentally ill people commit crimes, too. Perhaps more than those with better reality testing, judgment, and impulse control. And just because they're mentally ill does not necessarily give them an excuse for their behavior.

Carol Bowen 7 years ago

I've often wondered how we could consider anyone who has committed a serious crime as normal.

kernal 7 years ago

"... or deserve inpatient care." Not sure who you mean.

notajayhawk 7 years ago

Sorry, don't misinterpret what I meant by "deserve". I don't mean "are entitled to". Inpatient care entails giving up one's freedom to a large extent. I meant just because someone has been branded with a mental disorder label, they do not necessarily deserve to have that happen to them.

kernal 7 years ago

Thanks for the clarification.

LoveThsLife 7 years ago

I have a sibling in another state with a form of schizophrenia. As a family member I wish there were more options for those who are really needing the help. Mental health care is one of those issues that tends to get a lot of lip service when something goes wrong (like Virginia Tech) but then gets ignored.

Carol Bowen 7 years ago

We also have a family member with schizophrenia. I have found that the condition is not uncommon, and it is not always an inherited condition. It can be caused by trauma. I wonder how many folks in the military return with serious mental problems that we are not addressing.

In our case, I think our family member could live on her own with some assistance. But she has not been able to find a job or housing and must rely on minimal aid.She cannot afford the medications. If she could stabilize, she would not have been in the hospital so many times.

notajayhawk 7 years ago

Actually, symptoms of psychosis may be caused by various things other than heredity, but schizophrenia is most likely genetic.

Practicality 7 years ago

Well, this actually explains alot. Now we know why bozo is walking around.

Scott Drummond 7 years ago

That's no way to refer to an ex-President. Besides, is being a dry drunk a mental illness?

Carol Bowen 7 years ago

I agree. He was not my favorite president, but we have to respect the office and the person who did what he could. Besides, there are voters who still believe he was a good president.

seriouscat 7 years ago

If I remember correctly, and I'm sure someone will let me know if not, part of the problem with people dropping their kids off at hospitals in Nebraska and insisting that said kids become wards of the state, was due to a lack of access to mental health services.

Could Kansas be next?

kernal 7 years ago

I remember a news story about that where a woman from another state (back East?) drove her mentally ill son all the way to Omaha and dropped him off because she could not get help for him in the state where she lived.

I think the estimates for the percentage of the prison population that was mentally ill in studies from the late 1990's was sixteen percent. Since that time, most state hospitals have closed in the U.S., so I imagine that figure is around twenty-five percent by now. That doesn't include the mentally ill on the streets.

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