Abstract for: A Concept Model for Acute Crisis Mental Health System Capacity Planning and Management

Introducing effective antipsychotic medications in the 1950s led to the deinstitutionalization of individuals with serious mental illness. In the United States, this has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of mental health inpatient hospital beds nationwide. Cost reduction efforts and the belief that community outpatient programs will address most of the individuals experiencing acute mental health crises have motivated a substantial portion of these bed reductions. Unfortunately, most community outpatient programs are underfunded and unable to meet growing demands. The inability to strike the balance among treatment alternatives has left many community mental health systems with insufficient bed capacity and inadequate resources. This has resulted in individuals in acute mental health crisis receiving delayed care needed for their treatment and stabilization, which burdens emergency departments and the criminal justice system with individuals arrested while in the community experiencing an acute crisis. This paper introduces a concept model referred to as “Anytown, USA” which is a hypothetical community with treatment and stabilizing components found in most acute mental health crisis systems. The concept model aims to provide capacity planning estimates for bed needs and to allow decision-makers to develop system insight and intuition.