Hospital emergency departments (EDs) across the country are experiencing a surge in the number of patients presenting with mental health issues. This trend is due to a combination of factors, including lack of community mental health services, cost and coverage barriers, insufficient outpatient resources and inpatient treatment options and a nationwide shortage and uneven geographic distribution of psychiatrists.
Given this, patients seeking behavioral health treatment face long wait times and may have to travel significant distances for an appointment. They may also have trouble finding psychiatry practices accepting new patients or that take their insurance since many have converted to cash-only private practices. Therefore, with nowhere else to turn, these patients are increasingly relying on EDs for behavioral health care.
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