Hospitals are closing and treatment options are limited for those experiencing psychological distress.
Taking a more optimistic view of the mental health crisis the nation is currently experiencing, it can be said that at least now people can feel they can be more open about their struggles. Where people were once largely fearful of talking about these struggles, doing so is common today. This openness allows people to share their experiences and hopefully help each other get through in a positive manner. Of course, that positive viewpoint is nice, but it still doesn’t mean the crisis has been put to bed. In fact, it is worse than ever in some ways, as evidenced by the difficulty that medical facilities are having in having hospital beds for the patients who need care. There is no one clear path out of this crisis, but it’s likely that at least part of the battle needs to be fought in hospitals where individuals can get direct care from qualified professionals. When that doesn’t happen, the results can be disastrous.
The state of the hospitals in Jackson, Mississippi, are one such example. Recently, hospital beds in the behavioral services unit – St. Dominic Memorial Hospital – became unavailable altogether as the facility was closed, placing a new level of stress on psychiatric services that were still available. As a result, psychiatric beds in the city were chronically full and new patients had to be turned away in times of crisis. This can lead to individuals causing harm to themselves and others.
Those living in the Jackson area also have access to other facilities that offer psychiatric services, but it seems that those locations are struggling, too, to keep up with demand. There are plans to open up more beds for behavioral health services, but such actions can take time and don’t provide solutions for people who need immediate attention. Even if a prospective patient has to wait a day or two to get admitted and begin to receive treatment, that delay can be significant enough to cause a crisis to escalate.
The mental health crisis in the aftermath of the pandemic isn’t going anywhere on its own. The only way out of this current situation is through collaboration and the use of resources to provide individual patients with the attention and care they need to deal with their mental health challenges. Without such prioritization and without making beds available regularly for those who need them urgently, there will only continue to be more and more problems and the mental health crisis will keep spreading.
The issues being seen in the state of Mississippi are just a sampling of what is going on across the country. It’s a serious issue when hospitals don’t have the space needed to care for patients with physical ailments, and it’s just as serious when those with mental health issues don’t get the attention they need and deserve. Continued efforts in the direction of awareness and advocacy should help divert more and more resources toward this tremendously important area of healthcare.