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The Closure Of State Psychiatric Hospitals: Communities Are Not Ready

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"The Closure of State Psychiatric Hospitals: Communities Are Not Ready"

State Psychiatric Hospitals have been around for over two hundred years; however, only in the past fifty years has the course of treatment become desirable to patients and family members of the mentally ill. While in a perfect world, the closure of these hospitals would in fact do the residences a great deal of good; with the current state of the community mental health system, the patients who are released from these inpatient institutions do not have significant care and support available to them after their release. The overall condition of the behavioral health system, has in part, failed the participants who are in need of their services.

The beginning of the deinstutionalization of state hospitals began in the 1950's, with the goal of bringing people out of the hospitals and into community based treatment centers (Flory). In theory, this plan of action is the most beneficial to mentally ill patients; however, the funding that was promised to these centers has not been distributed in full. The Department of Public Welfare put out a news release stating,

Our intent is to expand the existing community infrastructure and invest millions of dollars used to run more restrictive, costly hospital services to the community to enhance and sustain recover--supporting services as well as continue to improve Pennsylvania's mental health service delivery system (Closure 3).

Although the DPW has good intentions, "State, as well as federal, funding for mental health treatment has been steadily dropping. County--and privately--run programs have been reduced, if not cut entirely, because of the lack of money" (Mayview 1). If the Department of Public Welfare does not act in accordance with their previous promises of funding community mental health systems, then there will be no improvement, for which the mentally ill will be able to benefit from.

Being released from a state hospital to an outpatient service, while motivating for the patient, often results in confusion and resentment from the lack of planning and resources available to them; therefore, causing the patient to pull away from the behavioral health system. For years, local governments have been trying to up grade community services, with the goal of, after being discharged from an inpatient service, participants will have a painless transition into their community of choice. While the BHS has come a long way in the last fifty years, the transfer from inpatient to outpatient services often results in a lack of adequate treatment for the patient.

The period between hospital discharge and first outpatient contact is often fraught with difficulties for the patient with serious mental illness. For instance, upon discharge, they are often placed on long waiting lists for community based services and end up having their intake and clinical appointments scheduled weeks apart (Bender 2).

Patients' having their intake and clinical appointments scheduled weeks apart poses a problem for not only the patient but the community as well. The time between the two appointments gives the patient enough time to stop taking their medication and fall into a deconstructive path of behavioral actions.

While roaming the streets, people who are suffering from a brain disorder, are usually victimized and tormented by the community, not because of heartlessness, but simply because there is no wide based knowledge of mental disease. The DPW is mainly responsible for the lack of information available to citizens, which is why so many of the mentally

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