Under the Dome

New mental health, drug abuse task force

Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday announced a new task force on mental illness and substance abuse issues. Members will come from the three branches of government.

“Our goal is to improve collaboration between health care, justice and safety professionals using existing resources,” McCrory said in a statement. “If we improve these linkages, we offer the best hand up to those in need - especially our young people.”

The group will send McCrory findings and recommendations by May 1, 2016.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin and state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos are running the task force. State Sen. Tamara Barringer of Cary and state Rep. Susan Martin of Wilson are also on it. Martin will appoint seven members and McCrory will appoint 11.

These are the duties defined in McCrory’s executive order creating the task force:

▪ Evaluate the linkages between agencies of state government and local government and create recommendations for the transfer of existing best practices across the state;

▪ Examine the role of mental health and other specialty courts currently in North Carolina to determine how they can best be utilized to improve our efforts to address and reduce the extent to which individuals suffer from untreated mental health disorders and substance use problems;

▪ Examine successful efforts to heighten awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health treatment in our state and recommendations on how to improve these efforts;

▪ Examine the ways the justice system can best handle cases of young people with mental illness and substance use disorders to provide them the best opportunity to reach their full potential as North Carolina citizens;

▪ Examine the link between foster care and the need for mental health and substance use services to improve outcomes for teenagers when they leave the foster care system.