Shortage of Beds for Mentally Ill Severe in Texas

Pavilion CEO Charlene Arnett
Pavilion CEO Charlene Arnett

Increased homelessness, more people in jail, more violence on the streets. All are likely results of a shortage of psychiatric beds across the nation.

That, according to a report released today saying Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma are among states with severe shortages. The report says there should be at least 50 psychiatric beds per 100 thousand people in any given state.

In Texas, there are only twelve beds per 100 thousand, putting the lone star state in the severe category.

Amarillo's Pavilion says a severe shortage leads to a host of problems, the main one being a strain on local jails. Pavilion CEO Charlene Arnett says "when they don't get treatment at a state hospital, they are put in jail and that puts a strain on the criminal justice system."

Law enforcement says that strain creates less room in jails for dangerous criminals.

Law enforcement and Arnett both say taxpayer money should be going toward getting help for the mentally ill, not incarcerating them.

In that report, Oklahoma is listed as having a critical bed shortage, that is the worst it can be, and New Mexico has a serious shortage.