As lawmakers continue to mull over mental-health parity legislation on Capitol Hill, a new report indicates greater demand for behavioral health services in the U.S. The annual report from the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (www.naphs.org) — an association of behavioral healthcare providers that own or manage more than 600 psychiatric hospitals, treatment facilities and outpatient networks—found that average inpatient hospital admissions increased 3.4% in 2006 to 2,557, while the average total days of inpatient hospital care rose by 6.5% that year to 24,318.

“To better meet strong demand for behavioral healthcare, hospitals have been adding beds and/or activating licensed beds within existing facilities,” the report noted. “Trend analysis shows a 1% increase in both licensed and set-up and staffed beds within member hospitals reporting in 2005 and 2006.”

Residential treatment, which is provided by both free-standing residential treatment centers and by hospital-based resident treatment programs, also saw a slight upswing. Admissions increased 2.3%, the survey showed. Of the 189 surveys mailed to the group’s members, 144 hospitals, or 76%, participated, and survey responses were based on 2006 data. Earlier this year, the House passed a mental-health parity bill that was more comprehensive than the Senate’s Mental Health Parity Act passed last September. — by Jessica Zigmond

As reprinted from Modern Healthcare dated 5/16/08, www.modernhealthcare.com.