Dave Richard’s Sept. 23 letter “ Better mental health care in N.C.” failed to capture the seriousness of the mental health system collapse. His vision for a solution is vastly different from what I see as a mental health advocate.
Community services to keep people from using crisis services are urgently needed. But instead of increasing funding for these services, the legislature reduced the budget another 3.5 percent from last fiscal year, a 9 percent reduction in six years from fiscal year 2008-09. This has resulted in a rapid acceleration of people with mental illness being incarcerated, not to mention the increase in our suicide rate.
Richard suggested adding crisis stabilization facilities as a solution. In Wake County we have such a facility, WakeBrook Recovery Center. Last month this facility was on diversion (meaning it locked the doors for people seeking help) 33 percent of the time. Meanwhile, the emergency departments in the county have continued to have more people also waiting days for psychiatric beds.
Positive, stable improvements for better mental health will take more money to address the total mental health system, including hospitals, jails, schools, housing and jobs. The current approach stresses only other parts of the mental health system that cannot meet the needs.
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President, NAMI Wake County