The number of patients seeking emergency psychiatric care has risen rapidly in the past few years, and the hospital frequently operates beyond its regular capacity, issuing “single bed certifications” and allowing people to rest on cots in the hallways and mats on the floor. The severity of the cases has increased, too. Beall estimates that, as recently as a few years ago, only 20 percent of patients needed inpatient treatment; now that figure is between 50 percent and 60 percent.
I'll trust his numbers for now. I don't think the US population has risen quite that much.
What drives this? Drug use? Vulnerable people who lost their family/network support and wound up on the street and got way worse? Were they always here and somehow found ways of managing until now? Fewer facilities increases the burden on the remaining ones? Minor changes in definition plus low statistics? Something in the water? No, I'm not being flip.
The local school has seen a very significant rise in the number of children needing extra attention, but I've no idea if that's related.