by Mark Flatten

After every school shooting, every new report on suicides or drug overdoses, every tragedy in which someone with a troubled mind commits a horrible act, we hear the same refrain: “If you need help, get help.”

But what happens when help is not available?

The overwhelming likelihood is that those with severe mental-health issues will instead wind up in jail, chained to a hospital bed, or wandering the halls of emergency rooms for hours, days, and sometimes weeks without getting the help they need. It’s a fate faced by thousands of people in mental-health crises every day, because of America’s severe shortage of inpatient mental-health beds.

The dearth of mental-health-treatment options that exists in many places around the country is driven by the greed, or at least the economic selfishness, of established medical providers who are able to prevent competitors from moving in on their turf, regardless of how dire the shortage. To do so, they use what are called Certificate-of-Need (CON) laws, which generally require would-be providers of health-related services to get approval from a state regulatory board before building or expanding a facility or service.

Read Flatten’s full op-ed at National Review Online

Mark Flatten is the Goldwater Institute’s national investigative journalist, and the author of the new report, “CON Job: Certificate of Need Laws Used to Delay, Deny Expansion of Mental Health Options.”