State looking to build secure health facility for seriously mentally ill

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The Arizona Department of Housing has put out a request for proposal for a $3.5 million secure behavioral health residential facility to be built using money lawmakers gave this year to the Housing Trust Fund. 

The legislature appropriated $15 million for the Housing Trust Fund for current fiscal year, the most money the fund has seen since 2012.

“Once developed, this residential facility will provide a critical resource to persons who have been determined to be seriously mentally ill and chronically resistant to treatment pursuant to a court order,” ADOH spokeswoman Janelle Johnsen said.  

Proposals for the project are due by March 16, 2020. 

The aim is to build a secure facility that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for seriously mentally ill patients. 

The RFP doesn’t specify where ADOH is looking to build the facility to be built and appears to be leaving that up to the proposals. 

In Arizona, more than 40 percent of all mental health treatment facilities are outpatient, according to a 2017 study done by the Department of Health and Human Services

The study also found that seven states, including Arizona, accounted for 40 percent of all private for-profit organization mental health treatment facilities in the United States. 

In total, Arizona has 372 mental health facilities, but only 36 offer 24-hour inpatient care. A majority of those are private psychiatric hospitals. 

In Arizona, about 4.1 percent of adults in the state have some form of serious mental illness, according to the most recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.