Beyond Beds: The Vital Role of a Full Continuum of Psychiatric Care

Hardly a day goes by without a headline, court case, or legislative action calling for reforming the mental health system. Often, these calls to action end in two words: “More beds.” Largely missing from the discussion are essential questions such as these:


  • What do we mean by “beds”? More precisely, what types of beds are needed: acute, transitional, rehabilitative, long-term or other?
  • Are there differences in the needs of different age groups – youth, adults, older persons – and diagnoses that need to be reflected in the bed composition?
  • What are the evidence-based outpatient practices that would reduce bed demand by reducing the likelihood that a crisis will develop or by diverting individuals in crisis to appropriate settings outside of hospitals?


This webinar provided an overview of the technical assistance document Beyond Beds:The Vital Role of a Full Continuum of Psychiatric Care, which addresses these questions and offers 10 public policy recommendations for reducing the human and economic costs associated with serious mental illness by building and invigorating a robust, interconnected, evidencebased system of care that goes beyond beds. The achievable outcome is that people with serious mental illness have access to the same levels of care that individuals with other medical conditions already commonly experience and obstacles to such treatment are removed.


  • Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS)
  • Debra A. Pinals, M.D., Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Michigan
  • Doris A. Fuller, Chief of Research, Treatment Advocacy Center (ret.)