Another shortage that is creating a health care crisis is a lack of space in psychiatric facilities for people with serious mental illness. Over the last few decades many psychiatric hospitals have closed. We have gone from half a million beds in such facilities to less than 100,000 today.
Although the expectation may have been that the mentally ill would receive treatment in their communities, there has not been adequate development of local mental health treatment centers. This is true in virtually every state.
As a result, patients are shunted to emergency rooms that are ill-equipped to handle the onslaught of psychiatric emergencies. Patients without insurance may not be admitted to private facilities. Because mental illness makes it more difficult to maintain a job that carries insurance, this puts the mentally ill in a difficult Catch-22. Even with the Affordable Care Act, there are no quick solutions to this public health emergency.