Letters to the Editor

Mental health: Psych bed shortage must be fixed

“Mental health bed shortage is getting worse,” (TNT, 12/10).

I am a mental health professional working in Tacoma, and it was with dismay that I read this article on mental health bed cuts on the grounds of Western State Hospital.

Lack of psychiatric beds is a national problem; the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national group, released a report in 2016 saying America’s state psychiatric hospitals have 11.7 beds per 100,000 people — far lower than the 40 to 60 figure it recommended. (Pierce County is even below the 11.7 figure.).

People with mental illness need timely services as much as anyone with any disease.

I have empathy for the terrible predicament that the Telecare Recovery Partnership Center administrator and all staff working at evaluation and treatment centers face in this shortage. And I appreciate the actions taken by Sens. Steve O’Ban and Jeanne Darneille to keep Telecare open.

I encourage people in Pierce County to communicate with Gov. Jay Inslee to rescind the Telecare closure.

They also should ask the Pierce County Council to support the one-tenth of 1 percent increase in sales tax for mental health funding, which the council didn’t support last year.

David Lambert, Fircrest

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