Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer
BY JEFF SANDERS, SPECIAL TO THE PRESS HERALD
“…We all agree that individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities should be in the least restrictive settings in which they can safely and successfully live. But when group homes and residential treatment facilities do not have adequate clinical resources to manage a patient’s behavior, they often bring the individual to the ED. When police do not want to criminalize an illness, they have no options but to bring people to the ED. When a parent cannot control a child with behavioral health needs, they often bring them to the ED. In these instances, stabilization may occur, but without a safe place to be discharged, the patient and care team suffer. The state’s crisis systems for these individuals are failing, and the EDs have become the state’s behavioral health safety net.
But the ED is a highly restrictive and often chaotic place. It is neither adequately staffed with behavioral health experts nor designed to provide ongoing treatment. The ED is meant to safely stabilize someone in crisis for a few hours – not days, weeks and months.”