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Governor Sununu and NH DHHS Issue Report on Capacity of the Mental Health System
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Division of Behavioral Health
Publish Date:
December 22, 2017

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today released an evaluation of the capacity of New Hampshire’s health system to address behavioral health needs, which points to a shortage in community-based housing services. The evaluation was conducted by Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) as called for in legislation passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Christopher T. Sununu.

HSRI evaluators reviewed more than 50 reports, presentations, and data sets, and interviewed 55 stakeholders to identify gaps in the health system to respond to the number of individuals in need of behavioral health services who are waiting in hospital emergency departments. The report recommends that increasing access to community-based services, such as peer support, crisis and urgent care, and services for individuals transitioning from inpatient care to the community, as critical to alleviating the burden on hospital emergency rooms.

“The perception is that extended wait times for behavioral health services in hospital emergency departments are due to there being too few inpatient beds at New Hampshire Hospital,” said Governor Sununu. “Importantly, this report shows that we can take steps to increase availability of these inpatient services by expanding community interventions for those ready to leave New Hampshire Hospital. In doing so, we can better meet the behavioral health needs of patients who need inpatient services as well as those who are ready to transition back into the community.”

As a result of the study, Governor Sununu and DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey A. Meyers, with support from Legislative leadership, are redirecting funds set aside for designated receiving facility beds for involuntary admissions to housing services.

“The evaluation confirms what the Department has suspected, that a lack of community-based services is prohibiting the timely discharge of patients from New Hampshire Hospital,” said Commissioner Meyers. “While the Department has and will continue to focus efforts on transitioning those waiting for mental health beds, the wait list cannot be fully addressed until there is greater capacity in the mental health system to increase patient access to community-based services.”

The report details a series of recommendations, which will serve as a foundation for the development of the 10-Year Plan for Mental Health, which was also part of a comprehensive package of initiatives passed in the 2017 Legislative Session. It was funded with a contribution from the New Hampshire Hospital Association and federal resources.

To view the full report, please visit: www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcbcs/bbh/documents/nh-final-report-12222017.pdf

 
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