psychiatric hospitals

A little-discussed provision in the Senate health care bill is designed to boost the number of hospital beds for psychiatric care, providing a long-sought victory for mental health advocates.

CAMH Foundation/via Flickr

Across the country, a critical shortage of state psychiatric beds is forcing mentally ill patients with severe symptoms to be held in emergency rooms, hospitals and jails while they wait for a bed, sometimes for weeks.

Mental health advocates, attorneys and judges say the practice, known as psychiatric boarding, prevents patients from getting the care they need. 

The Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune have launched an investigative series on the violence in Florida's state-funded mental hospitals. According to the investigation, violent attacks have doubled in the state's biggest hospitals over the past six years. Despite complaints of staff shortages, state lawmakers and the Department of Children and Families continued reducing budgets and staff.