Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Inpatient Psychiatric Hospital Closure


Fox 5 News reports a significant development in the mental health landscape: Palomar Health's final behavioral health unit is set to cease operations on June 30, 2024. This unit, a vital 12-bed facility, has been a cornerstone of psychiatric care, offering an extensive range of services including psychiatric intensive care, crisis stabilization, therapy sessions, medication management, and various therapeutic activities such as art and pet therapy.

Patients currently under the care of Palomar Health will be transitioned to the esteemed Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, known for its comprehensive programs and compassionate approach to mental health care.

As a practicing psychiatrist, this news hits close to home. With dwindling options for inpatient referrals, the closure of Palomar Health's unit is disheartening. While Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital provides excellent care, the importance of having diverse options cannot be overstated, especially in times of crisis.

Navigating the mental health system is already a daunting task for patients and their families. The scarcity of available beds only exacerbates this challenge, leaving individuals stranded in emergency departments for hours or even days.

However, amidst the frustration, there remains a glimmer of hope. With increased funding earmarked for mental health initiatives in California, there is a possibility of bolstering inpatient programs. It is imperative that we prioritize the establishment of suitable facilities to cater to the acute needs of individuals struggling with mental health issues.

Let us collectively advocate for the allocation of resources towards mental health care, ensuring that every individual receives the support and treatment they rightfully deserve. Together, we can strive towards a future where access to mental health care is readily available and equitable for all.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Heartbreaking Facts on Suicide


A recent piece in The Conversation  (click here to view full articlehas spotlighted concerning statistics on suicide, shedding light on a pressing issue that demands attention. In 2021, the CDC reported a distressing reality: every 11 minutes, someone in the US took their own life, resulting in nearly 50,000 deaths annually. Furthermore, 1.7 million individuals attempted suicide, with over 12 million grappling with suicidal thoughts. These figures translate to approximately 3.6% of the US population in 2021 experiencing such thoughts.

Tragically, the numbers took a somber turn in 2022, with suicides increasing by 2.6%. Alarmingly, suicide remains one of the top three causes of death for individuals aged 10 to 34, underscoring the urgent need for a reassessment of our suicide prevention strategies.

My personal journey, marked by the loss of a loved one to suicide, ignited my path towards psychiatry. This experience continues to be the driving force behind my commitment to this field. I envision a world where the very notion of suicide is foreign to us. Yet, in my practice, I encounter individuals trapped in the grips of depression, consumed by a sense of hopelessness. They struggle to envision a future beyond their current despair, unable to fathom the possibility of emerging into the light of joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

If you find yourself wrestling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. Share your burden with a friend, a family member, a healthcare professional, or anyone you trust. While the path to recovery may seem obscured by darkness, know that it does exist. I witness this transformation firsthand in my patients, as they navigate their way out of the abyss. Even those who have attempted suicide express gratitude for having survived.

If you are contemplating self-harm or suicide, seek assistance immediately:

  • Call 911 for emergency services.
  • Visit the nearest hospital emergency room for evaluation and possible admission for your safety.
  • Reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.
Please visit Dr. Watson's practice website, Del Mar Psychiatry, by clicking here.