With Robin Williams’ death this week, Americans – for the moment anyway – seek a greater understanding of mental health and the need for appropriate care for that patient population.
On August 27 Washington state hospitals will no longer serve as boarding facilities for people needing mental health care. The Washington State Supreme Court has declared it so.
Gov. Inslee announced 50 beds - split among Eastern State Hospital, private hospitals in Kirkland and Tukwila and community boarding homes - will be added in the next two weeks for those needing mental health care. The need is profoundly greater, but 50 beds is a beginning.
Next, we need to mandate that jails – like hospitals – are grossly inappropriate settings for mentally ill people. They languish in jails without care or access to health assessments, medication or time with loved ones, waiting months for an available bed. To place psychiatric patients in jail is like sending a cancer patient to a Greyhound Bus station waiting room. Totally absurd.
(S-R archive photo: Sunlight filters through the clouds, illuminating the Apurimac river in Pichari, Peru. )