mental health funding

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Debate over state mental health care

Apr 12, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

In March, it was reported that New Hampshire reached a record high with 68 people waiting for an open bed at the state psychiatric hospital in Concord. On average, as many as 46 people wait for open beds at a given time, a large increase from an average of 9 in 2013.

In response, Governor Sununu has proposed allocating an extra $3 million dollars in the next state budget to fund services like Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) aimed at preventing a crisis that could cause a mentally ill individual to need medical care. No additional funds were allocated for more inpatient beds. Since the House failed to pass a budget, the Senate will now review Sununu's proposal and draft a budget for the next two years.

While many mental health advocates applaud Sununu's budget proposal, others contend that the state needs to dedicate funds for additional inpatient beds at New Hampshire Hospital.

Those in favor of increased funding for inpatient beds argue that too many individuals are waiting in hallways, emergency rooms, and on wait lists for psychiatric care. The threshold for adequate care for patients with mental illness is considered to be a minimum of 50 beds per 100,000 people and New Hampshire only has 11.9.

On the other hand, a 2014 settlement agreement requires New Hampshire to bolster community treatment, not institutionalization, for residents with mental illness. Ideally preventative, community-based care like ACT will stem the need for psychiatric services at hospitals by helping people in their own communities before they enter crisis.

​Do you think NH's 2018-19 state budget should allocate funds for more inpatient beds at the state psychiatric hospital? Leave a comment below to join the discussion!

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