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Tragedies Underscore Crisis in U.S. Public Mental Health System: National Advocacy Organization Demands Reforms
Date:12/2/2008

c emergency room of New York City's Kings County Hospital Center after having waited for a bed for nearly 24 hours. She lay sprawled on the floor for more than an hour before the medical staff took any notice - and that notice consisted of someone's prodding her dead body with a foot, according to The New York Times.

Shortly thereafter, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) convened a series of regional Psychiatric Emergency Care Forums across the state, bringing together local hospitals, local and state mental health officials, peers (people with psychiatric disabilities), service providers and family members.

The forums have yielded many promising recommendations, including expanding low-cost alternatives to psychiatric emergency rooms such as peer-run warm lines and crisis respite care, improving staff response via training and higher standards, reforming federal and state certification and regulatory standards, expanding access to community mental health services beyond normal business hours, enhancing police training in crisis de-escalation and other strategies, and preparing peers to better anticipate and manage crises via training and support for the development of personal crisis/safety plans.

"These tragedies underscore the great crisis that exists in our nation's mental health care systems. While the challenge to overhaul them is daunting, we know much more today than in the past about what needs to be done," said Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of NYAPRS, a NCMHCSO member organization. "We're calling on the incoming Obama administration to recommit federal mental health reform efforts that incorporate and implement recommendations from untapped experts, people living with psychiatric disabilities like us."

The National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations (

SOURCE National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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