Barbara Smith: Homes fill a need

December 11, 2012 

Homes fill a need

Thank you for your coverage of the issues regarding mental health group homes and NAMI Wake’s advocacy efforts.

Many of the people with mental illness who currently live in adult care homes, family care homes and mental health group homes are those with severe, disabling illnesses. Adult care homes and family care homes essentially provide custodial care, with no specialized mental health treatment or rehabilitation beyond medications.

In contrast, mental health group homes are designed to provide a therapeutic environment to those who live in them. With the elimination of state hospital beds, we need quality mental health group homes more than ever.

A good group home can be an environment that teaches skills to help someone move to more independent living, and they can provide the ongoing support that persons with disabling psychiatric symptoms or dangerous behaviors need to live successfully in the community. They are an important part of a housing continuum for persons with severe mental illness.

Let’s hope our state leaders can come together to solve this problem. Because as we have seen frequently over the past decade, if a private provider can’t make the business model work, they will simply close their doors.

Barbara B. Smith, LCSW,

Durham

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