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DHHS seeks to curb mental crisis ER visits

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For Immediate Release
Monday, December 2, 2013

DHHS seeks to curb mental crisis ER visits
by Anna Oakes
Watauga Democrat
December 2, 2013

Raleigh, N.C. -- A new Crisis Solutions Coalition meets for the first time Dec. 9 in a statewide effort to reduce the number of emergency room visits for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

In November, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced the Crisis Solutions Initiative, which will work to ensure that individuals experiencing an acute mental health or substance abuse crisis receive timely specialized psychiatric treatment.

"Our current system of providing care for people in a mental health or addiction disorder crisis is not working," Wos said in a statement. "We have come to rely too much on local law enforcement and hospital emergency departments to provide mental health or addiction interventions."

The coalition meets at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, on the Dorothea Dix campus in Raleigh. Wos tapped Dave Richard, director of the DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, to lead the coalition.

"The overdependence on emergency departments and the lack of alternative resources ends up costing limited resources without giving the real help needed by individuals and families during crisis episodes," Richard said in a statement.


The coalition will recommend and establish community partnerships to strengthen the continuum of care for mental health and substance abuse services; promote education and awareness of community resources other than the ER; share and evaluate data to identify who, when and where people increases are served, and to what effect; identify best practices and provide technical assistance to LMEs, law enforcement and providers on how to respond to crisis scenarios; recommend policy and funding changes; and create local business plans to provide a roadmap for mental health investments.


Richard will host a live Twitter town hall discussion about the initiative at at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.

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