Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation

DHHS Secretary Gets Support in Revamping Future of Mental Health Care

For release: Immediate    Jan. 7, 2011
Contact: Renee McCoy (919) 733-9190

RALEIGH – DHHS Secretary Lanier M. Cansler today outlined the state’s ongoing efforts to further improve mental health services that DHHS provides in community settings. The Secretary discussed the rollout of the new Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA) that became operational on Jan.1 and replaces the Community Support Program.

“DHHS is continuing to work toward providing the full spectrum of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse treatment programs that will provide services to consumers under a single umbrella agency,” Cansler said. “The CABHA program is designed to place greater emphasis on a solid clinical and medical basis for mental health services and to assure and monitor that services that were overused in the past are better managed and controlled.”

Accompanying Cansler at today’s media event were mental health experts, advocates and educators from across the state, who praised DHHS’ efforts to improve services, treatment and programs in mental health care.

“As a psychiatrist I am very supportive of the efforts of Secretary Cansler and the Division of MH/DD/SAS to put quality clinical care back at the heart of North Carolina’s mental health system,” said Dr. John H. Gilmore of the UNC School of Medicine and Director of the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. “Like any medical illness, psychiatric illness requires that doctors and other mental health care professionals work together to provide patients with state-of-the-art, cost-effective treatment. Strong and active medical leadership is critical for the agencies that we entrust with the care of North Carolina’s citizens, especially in a time of tight budgets and hard decisions.”

Of the initial 603 applicants to become CABHA providers, 175 have been approved so far, assuring the provision of services in every region of the state. More than 100 applications have been submitted after the initial August deadline and are in the process of being reviewed as expeditiously as possible. A full listing of certified CABHAs is located at

“CABHA is one more component in our efforts to make the best use of our Mental Health financial and human resources,” Cansler said. “We will concentrate our efforts and our resources on providing tested and proven ‘best practices’ of mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse treatment, which are treatments and practices of delivering services with proven track records of working successfully in other programs or states.”

CABHA will place limits on who can provide certain MH/DD/SAS services as well as the professional, medical and training activities and oversight. This will allow the state to exercise greater control over how services are used by providers and will help ensure that services that are provided are based on solid clinical assessments.

“We want to provide fair compensation to good providers who work diligently to provide genuinely needed MH/DD/SAS services to people who need them. But we are also determined to prevent unscrupulous providers from cheating the system,” Cansler said.

CABHA-certified providers will be expected to:

  • demonstrate the qualifications of staff and the training and implementation of evidence-based practices;
  • use data and track clinical trends in order to strengthen clinical oversight and monitoring of their own agencies; and,
  • collaborate with local primary care physicians and LME physicians.

A new video – Guided by Science Grounded by Practice – featuring the stories and experiences of people who are using programs considered “tested and proven ‘best practices’ of mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse treatment” can be viewed at
 Ready NC Connect NC