WS Journal on Mental Health

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.


The Reform IS the Problem

The D+ rating isn't because the reforms have been slowly implemented. They've been implemented for over two years now, and things are getting worse by the minute.

We need to put the brakes on the reform to give MH pros the time to tell Raleigh how to mend the problems.

Gordon . . .

Do you have access to what the MH professionals have adopted as their point of view? Can you direct me somewhere to find a plan or approach that seems workable?

I fear this same kind of "reform" will be happening in public schools soon, with new mandates for more and more testing -- and the attendant bureaucracy -- instead of freeing teachers to teach.

MH reform resources


Here are a couple places to get you started:

Thanks for paying attention to this issue. With Federal cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, the mental health services will be the first to take even more hits. We're increasing funding for prisons at the same time.

It's absurd to choose to treat people in the most expensive ways possible (Inpatient or out-of-home placements) rather than attend to people in ways that keep them in the community, working, and healthy.

Thanks for the links.

I like how you frame this as a tradeoff: We're spending more on prisons, we're spending less on mental health. Not only is this approach incompetent from a management point of view (it generates a poor return on investment) -- it also undermines the common good.

We're spending a billion a week in Iraq. How does that make sense?

These are great resources

I've been scanning for a while, and I now know less about MH reform in NC than I did an hour ago. On the up side, I'm pretty sure that most of what I knew an hour ago was wrong. Thanks for these. We could use a blogger knowledgeable on the topic to put up a few helpful posts here...