Patients complete ER due to lack of mental health services

Patients in need of mental and behavioral health services fill Pennsylvania’s emergency departments, and hospitals have nowhere to send them.

HARISBURG, Pennsylvania – The pandemic damage to mental health puts new emphasis on the lack of treatment options. There is a mental health crisis across the country and beyond.

Patients in need of behavioral health care are filling emergency rooms in Pennsylvania, and hospitals have nowhere to send them.

“It’s heartbreaking. “People stay in the emergency department because there’s no psychological help,” said Heather Tyler, vice president of state advocacy for the Association of Hospitals and the Pennsylvania Health System.

Doctors across the state have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people in need of emergency services, crisis services and post-hospital care.

However, there is a serious shortage of mental health providers and treatment programs in the British Community. The waiting period for admission to an institution is endless for some families.

“The waiting list can be as long as 1,000,” Tyler added. “What is happening is that as the crisis grows and the same things we all live with – inflation, higher wages, supply chain problems – services are more difficult to deliver. Counties are becoming increasingly tense and unable to provide community or home support or crisis support. “

FOX43 reveals that patients remain in the emergency department for days, sometimes weeks, while doctors frantically seek treatment options. Doctors at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health had to refer patients to facilities in Philadelphia for treatment.

Tyler said a Pennsylvania doctor tried to call 400 hospitals to find the right accommodation for a young child in need of mental health services.

Without an increase in government funding for more than a decade, doctors have watched the state mental health system fall apart before their eyes.

“We really need to do a better job as a system to create more opportunities for people with behavioral health needs to receive care at a less restrictive level,” said Tracy Lavalias, executive director of behavioral health at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.

In February 2021, 39.8% of Pennsylvania adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, and 25.7% failed to receive the necessary counseling or therapy, according to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Recent HAP research reveals that 1 in 6 children between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder, and less than 47 percent of adults living with a mental illness receive treatment.

Doctors are worried about the dangers that people pose to themselves and others if they are in the midst of a crisis and unable to get the help they need.

“As part of the disease, people may feel they don’t want to go on living or they can do something to hurt themselves, or they may get out of control with their behavior and inadvertently hurt someone else,” he said. Erica Saunders, who works in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Penn State Health.

Several stakeholders, including hospitals, are calling on lawmakers to increase state funding for county mental health programs by $ 28 million, by an additional $ 13 million for county mental health funding to support emergency departments.

There is also pressure to pass Bill 1644, which creates sophisticated care transition teams to help when inpatient, psychiatric or other conditions cannot discharge patients.

“Now is the time for politicians to invest more in the counties and provide them with funding in the mental health line to provide the programs that all families in Pennsylvania need,” Tyler said.

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