Under President Ronald Reagan, America pushed for the deinstitutionalization of our mentally ill. While California’s governor, Reagan deinstitutionalized over half of the state’s most vulnerable population with unfavorable results. Like many, he never really tried to understand mental illnesses.
William A. Harrington said in his Sept. 2 Point of View that having more mental health hospital beds is not the answer to North Carolina’s mental health problems. I agree, but I also believe that community-based services is not the only answer, either.
The 2001 Democratic-led reforms failed miserably because our esteemed state leaders saw fit to shut down mental health facilities before the continuum community services were funded adequately and working properly. The questionable privatization of mental health and the closing of two mental institutions while defunding community services doomed the reforms from the start.
Both hospitals and group homes should be funded equally for DHHS to be successful. Being institutionalized with no options is outdated and inhumane, but so is being turned away from treatment for lack of beds.
Harrington said that hospitalization should be the last resort, but in reality the last chance for many is a crowded emergency room or a jail. Last resort indeed!