Do Psychiatric Asylums Have A Role In Mental Health System Design? Free OPEN MINDS Briefing On Long-Term Mental Health Care Released

GETTYSBURG, PA., March 17, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In response to a proposal by bioethicists at the University of Pennsylvania to address the crisis of mental health care in the U.S. by recreating the long-term hospitalization through public hospitals (published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association), OPEN MINDS senior associates Robert Dunbar and George Braunstein, offered their insight on whether this proposition is a viable solution for the health and human service industry.

Bob Dunbar agrees that the current mental health system in the U.S. is broken. Challenges to the provision of quality community-based mental health and substance abuse services are very real, including a scarcity of mental health professions, including psychiatrists and the approximately $1.8 billion in mental health specific state budget cuts as a result of the recession.

However, he believes that the vast majority of people with serious and persistent mental illness will recover and benefit from quality well-managed evidence- and community-based treatment and care management services, rather than require long-term care asylum like inpatient programs. He said:

"The mental health service system will have the opportunity to invest in a continuum of evidence- and community-based services. There is no need to revert to the times when the mentally ill were isolated from their communities and loved ones because "recovery" was not deemed possible,"

Similar to Dunbar, George Braunstein does not believe that developing new long-term care hospitals is the best solution for the mental health system. There are several important issues and new developments in health care that will impact service quality and access issues that he mentioned:

"The obvious key to successful service delivery, requires effective public policy that recognizes the rights and the aspirations of people with a serious mental illness to have a choice where they live, and the treatment they receive. . . Secondly, the funding for any program, institutional or not, needs to be sufficient to achieve the stated goals. If those two issues are adequately addressed, then an effective community-based system with newly effective technology, vertical service models, and the availability of housing and job training will be possible."

There is a need for a long-term, comprehensive mental health services for people with more serious, persistent mental illness. But, community-based resources, supported and funded at the appropriate level may provide a more viable option than building new asylums.

The OPEN MINDS briefing paper, Do Psychiatric Asylums Have A Role In Mental Health System Design, is available at no charge to consumers, professionals, and policy makers interested in this issue.

Robert (Bob) Dunbar brings more than 40 years of senior level management and administrative experience spanning the health and human service field. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Mental Health Corporation of America's Health Care Reform/Care Coordination Committee. His impressive career serving in the behavioral health field has involved forming and improving new service delivery models; non-profit managed care administration; transition management and integration of services; financial model adherence and performance; and organizational relations with external stakeholders including affiliated corporations, payers, and regulating bodies.

George Braunstein, FACHE, M.A. brings more than 35 years of experience in leading both private and public sector health and human services organizations – in both institutional and ambulatory settings. Mr. Braunstein previously most recently served as executive director of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) in Fairfax, Virginia, which provides community-based mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabled services. During his six-year tenure with the CSB, he both reduced the budget and increased service access. Mr. Braunstein also developed the organization's first fully integrated service model that is combined mental health, substance use treatment and primary care services.

OPEN MINDS is a national market intelligence firm specializing in the sectors of the health and human service industry serving individuals with complex support needs: mental health; addiction treatment; children & family services; intellectual & developmental disabilities; chronic disease management; long term care; social services; correctional health care, reentry & diversion; and juvenile justice.

Founded in 1987 and based in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the 75+ associates believe by providing the latest market intelligence and management best practices to organizations serving the health and social support needs of the most vulnerable consumers, those organizations will be better able to provide efficient and effective services. Learn more at

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CONTACT: Tim Snyder, Vice President, Marketing 717-334-1329

Source: Open Minds