As lawmakers continue to mull over mental-health parity legislation on Capitol Hill, a new report indicates greater demand for behavioral health services in the U.S. The annual report from the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systemsan association of behavioral healthcare providers that own or manage more than 600 psychiatric hospitals, treatment facilities and outpatient networksfound that average inpatient hospital admissions increased 3.4% in 2006 to 2,557, while the average total days of inpatient hospital care rose by 6.5% that year to 24,318.
To better meet strong demand for behavioral healthcare, hospitals have been adding beds and/or activating licensed beds within existing facilities, the report noted. Trend analysis shows a 1% increase in both licensed and set-up and staffed beds within member hospitals reporting in 2005 and 2006.
Residential treatment, which is provided by both free-standing residential treatment centers and by hospital-based resident treatment programs, also saw a slight upswing. Admissions increased 2.3%, the survey showed. Of the 189 surveys mailed to the groups members, 144 hospitals, or 76%, participated, and survey responses were based on 2006 data. Earlier this year, the House passed a mental-health parity bill that was more comprehensive than the Senates Mental Health Parity Act passed last September. -- by Jessica Zigmond