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Solutions pledged for N.C. mental health system


For Immediate Release
Friday, November 8, 2013

Solutions pledged for N.C. mental health system
Richard Craver
Winston-Salem Journal
November 7, 2013

Raleigh, NC -- Getting the right help to people in a behavioral-health crisis at the point of intervention has become a top priority, state health officials said Thursday.

DHHS Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos unveiled a statewide "crisis solutions" initiative that she said will encourage proven first-touch programs. The programs include walk-in crisis centers and short-term residential treatment options; developing mental health first-aid training aimed at troubled youths; individualized treatment and post-recovery programs for individuals treated in emergency departments; a statewide telepsychiatry program involving at least 60 hospitals; and advanced training for emergency medical services personnel to treat someone having a behavioral-health crisis.

Richard said he is confident the initiative can begin with existing financing being reallocated toward focused areas. If DHHS and the projects prove successful, he said he believes the General Assembly would be willing to provide additional financing as it did to launch the state telepsychiatry program.

"We will tailor these programs to local community needs," Richard said. "We will measure their level of success, of moving the bar, for these three measuring sticks. For those that don't move the bar, we'll adjust."

Laurie Coker, a local advocate, has been asked to serve on the crisis coalition team. She is the director of the N.C. Consumer Advocacy, Networking and Support Organization and recently was appointed to the CenterPoint Human Services board of directors as the representative of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

"Secretary Wos has recognized that we can't keep putting Band-Aids on those having a behavioral-health crisis and just turning them back out on the streets," Coker said.

"Officials are recognizing that the initial contact with a person in crisis is not just the first step to stabilizing the person, but also potentially starting them on a long-term program that improves their condition and eases the burden on the health care system."

Representatives with Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said the systems are pleased that the McCrory administration is taking a proactive approach with the crisis initiative.


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