Limited resources are available for mental health patients - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Limited resources are available for mental health patients

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Limited resources are available for mental health patients. The mental state of a West Richland man accused of murdering his grandmother is raising questions about access to mental health resources in our area.

Washington State is ranked last in the nation for having the fewest psychiatric beds for patients. Over the last few years several organizations have been forced to shut down. Experts we talked with say more places for people with mental health issues to go are closing in our area. 

Directors of the National Alliance of Mental Illness Chapters say resources for mentally ill patients are lacking in our area. One of the last places people could go, the Wilson House closed last month. It was a social club for mentally ill people. Now in Tri-Cities there are only a total of 8 psychiatric beds.

NAMI Washington State Chapter President Gordon Bopp says "reducing services will inevitably lead people with mental illness to deteriorate. Their conditions will deteriorate and they're going to have psychiatric episodes."

The organization Human Rights Watch shows the number of people with mental health patients has quadrupled since 1998. Lourdes in Pasco is one of the few hospitals in our area that serves mental health patients. They only have 32 beds for mentally ill patients and saw more than 700 people last year.

Tri-Cities National Alliance of Mental Illness President Anna Bopp says "when we can't facilitate people we start adjusting the laws so that we don't have any more incoming into the system and that's where we're just opening it up for these tragic accidents."

According to the National Survey on Drug and Health more than 20% of Americans suffer from a serious mental illness including clinical depression, that's 1 in every 5 people. Gordon Bopp says people with mental health illnesses need a lot of care.  "People are not going to go away. They have a chronic medical condition that needs treatment and if you deny treatment there will be serious and expensive consequences," said Bopp.

Family and friends are still mourning the death of 87-year old Viola Williams who was killed in her home last week. Her grandson 28 year old Adam Williams is facing 1st degree murder charges. He has a criminal past and mental health issues.

Experts says if more rehabilitation sources were available for people like Adam an incident like this could have possibly been prevented.