Psychiatric Deinstitutionalization in BC: Negative Consequences and Possible Solution

Alison Read


Over the past half century, psychiatric deinstitutionalization has resulted in the movement of patients from hospitals to community care, supplemented by hospital beds for acute cases. Deinstitutionalization aims to empower mentally ill people and increase their autonomy. In British Columbia, thousands of psychiatric patients at Riverview Hospital have been transferred to the community since the 1990s. Although many patients benefit from community integration, some may experience negative effects. Funds saved by this trend have not been allocated to provide necessary supports to mentally ill people in the community. Due to a deficiency in mental health resources, this population is at risk for homelessness, drug abuse, incarceration in jail, and suicide. An understanding of these issues is required to propose effective solutions. In particular, there needs to be an increase in supportive housing and long-term care facilities for individuals with chronic mental health issues.

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Read A. Psychiatric Deinstitutionalization in BC: Negative Consequences and Possible Solution. UBCMJ. 2009 1(1):25-26.