Timely access to psychiatric beds in acute care hospitals is an essential and critical service for people suffering from serious mental illness—sometimes with a concurrent substance use disorder —who cannot safely or appropriately be treated as outpatients. The British Columbia Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) and the British Columbia Psychiatric Association (BCPA) often hear serious complaints about these bed shortages, hence this report. 

The purpose of this project was to examine and bring to light some of the most familiar and troubling elements of the health care system for British Columbians dealing with chronic and severe psychiatric illness, and their families and caregivers.  Methodology included a questionnaire for families and others, input from emergency room physicians, coroners’ reports, literature, input from a Canadian authority, and discussion within the joint BCSS-BCPA group.