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Researchers Call for Return of Mental Asylums

Three University of Pennsylvania bioethicists recently called for reestablishing mental asylums, The Inquirer's Stacey Burling reports. When  large-scale institutions for people with mental illness were abandoned decades ago, smaller, community-based institutions were not created to house people instead. Jails and emergency rooms have become the new mental asylums because there are few community-based beds for people with severe mental illnesses. The bioethicists "argue that what really happened was not deinstitutionalization but transinstitutionalization," Burling reports. "That means that at least some residents of mental hospitals did not thrive in their communities, as hoped, but shifted to inappropriate institutions, most notably prisons." One of the paper's authors told Burling he envisions asylums built on campuses and emphasizing patient autonomy and recovery as much as possible.

More and More Mentally Ill Held in Emergency Rooms

The Seattle Times reports on the practice of locking people in the middle of mental-illness crises at emergency rooms because there are not enough beds available in the psychiatric system. The crux of this ground-breaking report: "'Psychiatric boarding,' as it is officially called, or 'warehousing,' as it is known to mental-health advocates, has long taken place on occasion in Washington, which ranks at the bottom of the country for psychiatric-treatment beds per capita. But now this once-rare, controversial practice has rapidly become routine here — traumatizing thousands of mentally ill residents, wreaking havoc on hospitals, and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars."

Despite Mental Health Parity, Insurers Still Deny Coverage

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was supposed to ensure mental-health treatment and addiction-treatment services get the same coverage from insurers as physical ailments. "But five years after President George W. Bush signed the law, there is widespread agreement that it has fallen short of its goal of creating parity for mental health coverage," the New York Times reports. One of the issues is regulations to put meat on the bones of the statute have never been written by federal regulators. 


California Class Action Started Over Alleged Bus-and-Dump Practice of Mentally Ill

The New York Times has a report on a putatative class action filed against a Nevada psychiatric center alleging it had the practice of putting patients with mental illness onto buses to San Francisco and other California locales with one-way tickets. “In San Francisco, it’s been urban myth for decades that this sort of practice was going on,” San Franciso City Attorney Dennis Herrera told the New York Times and who is prosecuting the lawsuit. “But this is the first instance that I am aware of where we have been able to document a state-supported and state-sanctioned effort.”
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