By Nathaniel P. Morris
January 24, 2017
In the 20th century, the deinstitutionalization of mental health care took
patients out of long-term psychiatric facilities with the aim that they
might return to the community and lead more fulfilling lives. But in our
rush to shut down America's asylums, we failed to set up adequate outpatient
services for the mentally ill, who now often fend for themselves on the
streets or behind bars.
According to recent surveys, the number of state psychiatric beds has fallen
from over 550,000 in 1955 to fewer than 38,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, research
conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center estimates over 355,000 inmates in
America's prisons and jails suffered from severe mental illness in 2012.
Last year, a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found
that over 100,000 Americans who experienced homelessness also suffered from