The Winston-Salem Journal has a hard-hitting editorial today on North Carolina's miserable support in mental health care.
The D+ rating that North Carolina's mental health-care system got on an evaluation by the National Alliance on Mental Illness should give state officials all the more reason for rapid reform. As the alliance said, the state has a long way to go to provide quality services for its neediest residents.
Granted, the alliance is a tough grader. It gave the entire country a D for its ability to care for mentally ill patients, and 19 other states received Ds of varying range, M. Paul Jackson reported recently in the Journal.
But it's past time for North Carolina to improve its mental health-care system, before some future report from the alliance gives it an F. Many of the problems in North Carolina's system stem from the state's flawed attempt to shift mental-health care from public state hospitals to private community agencies, a Journal series that ran last year made clear.
The results have included the mentally ill being released to facilities poorly equipped to handle them, and that sometimes has meant that the mentally ill have posed an increased risk to themselves and others. Also, hundreds of mentally ill patients have been released from state hospitals to homeless shelters - which is just plain wrong. Many of these people are unable to find or afford care outside the public system. Some released patients end up in jail.
This what happens when governments lose sight of their most important commitments to the common good. And predictably, those least able to care for themselves are the ones who get screwed.
Kudos to the Winston-Salem Journal.