The Treatment Advocacy Center has published on its website (www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org) a report by E. Fuller Torrey MD et al. entitled, "The Shortage of Public Hospital Beds for the Mentally Ill." The study indicates a critical bed shortage in 11 states; a severe shortage in 21 states; and a serious bed shortage in 16 states. South Dakota had a marginal shortage, and only Mississippi was viewed as meeting minimal standards (50 beds minimum per 100,000). Frankly, I would rather see the focus of attention on the part of these prominent researchers be on whether there are adequate community-based services in the states-- services that reduce the need for institutionalization. Granted, the authors include expansion of Assertive Community Treatment and Assisted Outpatient Treatment among their six recommendations. But, those who read such studies and are in a position to influence public opinion and public policy (read that the media) immediately leap to the conclusion that more beds are the answer. Truth is, I don't believe we know how many beds are needed until we formulate a minimum standard for community based services. In my state of Indiana (ranked among those with a severe bed shortage), we pay the price for the lack of public psychiatric beds-- even paying out of pocket for private hospital bed stays while consumers wait for weeks until state beds become free. There is limited support for ACT services, and none for Assisted Outpatient Treatment. I think that most providers and advocates would say that they'd far prefer that additional funding be directed to community-based care rather than state hospitals. A moot point, of course, since additional funds in either direction are about as likely as an Indiana Spring without tornados!