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"No Room at the Inn . . . " TAC releases study

The Treatment Advocacy Center today released a grim new study showing the number of state hospital beds in America has plummeted to 1850 levels, exerting profound impacts on law enforcement, jails, hospitals and public safety. 

Ohio has seen a 13% decrease in the number of public psychiatric beds between 2005 and 2010, going from 1,210 to 1058.

The continuous emptying of state psychiatric hospitals for the past half century has decimated the number of public psychiatric beds available for the treatment of acutely or chronically ill psychiatric patients in the United States.

Although they constitute a small subset of all persons diagnosed with mental illness, the most severely ill patients are in dire need of the specialized, intensive treatment that has been delivered since the early 1830s through state hospital systems. The elimination of these systems is producing significant public and personal consequences in communities nationwide.

In “No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals,” we use data from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute to report changes in the availability of public psychiatric hospital beds from 2005 to 2010 and to assess the consequences for individuals and society. In summary:


  • The number of state psychiatric beds decreased by 14% from 2005 to 2010. In 2005, there were 50,509 state psychiatric beds available nationwide. By 2010, the number had shrunk to 43,318.
  • Per capita state psychiatric bed population by 2010 plunged to 1850 levels. In 1850, at the beginning of the movement to provide more humane care by treating seriously mentally ill persons in hospitals, there were 14 beds per 100,000 population. In 2010, the supply was virtually identical at 14.1.
  • Thirteen states closed 25% or more of their total state hospital beds from 2005 to 2010. New Mexico and Minnesota closed more than 50% of their beds; Michigan and North Carolina closed just less than 50%. Ten states increased their total hospital beds but continued to provide less than half the beds.
  • The decrease in state psychiatric bed availability since 2005 is actually worse than the 14% that occurred 2005-2010. Completed or announced bed eliminations since 2010 will eliminate 4,471 additional beds.

Overall, many states appear to be effectively terminating a public psychiatric treatment system that has existed for nearly two centuries. The system was originally created to protect both the patients and the public, and its termination is taking place with little regard for the consequences to either group.

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