FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2013
WASHINGTON – Hospitals that form the nation’s safety net also fill a growing national need for mental health services and violence prevention – but do so under strained budgets and workforce shortages that create crowded emergency departments and persistent gaps in care.
“[E]ven the safety net cannot catch all those in need of care, and many are still falling through the cracks in our mental health system,” the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) says in a brief released today. “Without proper mental health services, many of those who truly need this care and are at risk for violent behavior may go unnoticed – until it is too late.”
As the nation debates a response to recent mass shootings, NAPH has conducted research and surveyed its members to gain a more comprehensive perspective on these issues. Drawing on various sources, the brief points to a gap between mental health needs and available services and the link between a lack of services and violent crime. “Recent budget cuts have only exacerbated the problem,” NAPH says, pointing to an estimated $1.6 billion cut in state funding for mental health services during a time when demand for such services rose.
NAPH members have long worked to improve access to mental health care, including integrating mental health services into primary care and emergency preparedness planning. And even with recent challenges, many NAPH member hospitals remain the largest or only provider of mental health services in their community. In 2010, national data show NAPH members represented 9.4 percent of total inpatient psychiatric care bed supply nationwide, despite constituting just 2 percent of the nation’s acute care hospitals. To complement these services, many NAPH members are proactively reaching into their communities with violence prevention programs that create a safer, more productive environment for the families they serve.
The brief, which includes case studies of violence prevention programs at NAPH member hospitals, is available for download.
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About the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH)
NAPH represents the nation’s safety net hospitals and health systems, which provide high volumes of care to low-income individuals. These facilities offer high-quality health services for all patients, including the uninsured .and underinsured, regardless of ability to pay. In addition to helping ensure access to health care for all Americans, safety net hospitals provide many essential communitywide services, such as primary care, trauma care, and neonatal intensive care. Safety net hospitals also train many of America’s doctors, nurses, and other health care providers. Since its inception in 1980, NAPH has cultivated a strong presence on Capitol Hill, with the executive branch, and in many state capitols. NAPH advocates on behalf of its members on such issues as Medicaid, Medicare, and access to health care services for vulnerable populations. For more information, visit our website at http://www.naph.org/.