DHHS Releases Vision for Future of Behavioral Health

Raleigh, NC

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services submitted its Behavioral Health Strategic Plan to the NC General Assembly, providing an informed vision for the future of North Carolina’s behavioral health system.

The plan follows a yearlong process that included detailed stakeholder feedback and six listening sessions across the state. It offers solutions to each of the major challenges facing our behavioral health system, including uneven access to services, disjointed care, a declining workforce, funding and the opioid epidemic. The plan also aligns with the transformation of the state’s Medicaid program and drives our delivery system toward one that is outcome-oriented and community-based.

“A strong behavioral health system is critical to the health and well-being of North Carolinians as well as our states’ economic future.” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “This strategic plan lays out a road map for ongoing improvements and investments to provide high quality, affordable access to behavioral health services.”

Looking ahead, the plan calls for further work and investment in building community capacity, integrating care, increasing and better utilizing the behavioral health workforce and expanding the use of telemedicine. It highlights the critical role our state-operated facilities and non-Medicaid state funding play in providing services to poor children and working adults. It also underscores the greater need of closing the current health insurance coverage gap.

“There’s a shared understanding that this plan will evolve over time to meet the changing needs of North Carolina’s residents,” said Mark Benton, DHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Services. “What we’re laying out today builds upon the strengths of the current behavioral health system and looks to a future where everyone is able to access the right care at the right time.”

The Behavioral Health Strategic Plan was developed in collaboration with individuals, family members, providers, Local Management Entities/Managed Care Organizations, subject matter experts and other partners. It reflects valuable feedback from North Carolinians on what services and programs are working and where there are areas for improvement.

Submission of the plan meets the requirements of Session Law 2016-94, Section 12F.10. (a-d) and Session Law 2017-57, Section 11F.6.(a-b), which asked DHHS to develop and submit a strategic plan to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice and the Fiscal Research Division regarding improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of state funded behavioral health services.
The Behavioral Health Strategic Plan is available here.