When there aren't enough beds, people die:
Chapman was the Charlotte man who sought psychiatric help at Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph, at one point telling staff he wanted to "kill his wife," but was released with medication for depression and instructions to call back for an appointment. Hours later, police say he had killed his wife, one child and a stepchild.
A government that spends hundreds of millions for capital projects and economic incentives, yet sends suicidal or homicidal patients back on the streets, can no longer lay claim to the title "Public Servant".
The most horrifying story came from Tony Long, who in an eerily similar situation to that of Chapman, is charged with strangling and raping his wife two days after telling staff at CMC-Randolph he wanted to kill her. He, too, was given a prescription for antidepressants and sent home with instructions to return.
This article deals specifically with Mecklenburg County, and it's apparent there are issues between state and local funding:
Mecklenburg County has the additional problem of being underfunded by the state. Mecklenburg's mental health agency gets less state money per resident than all but one of North Carolina's 24 mental health agencies. The state cut its funding by more than $5 million last year.
Sadly, this funding inequity is well known, but nothing has been done to rectify it, though N.C. Rep. Verla Insko of Chapel Hill says she has tried without success. She said that "Mecklenburg has been generous with their county dollars and the state has taken advantage of that."
But we have to change the way we approach mental health issues, and that change must come from state government itself, as opposed to local or regional initiatives.
The folks I've met from DHHS are good people who genuinely care, but they don't have their fingers on the purse strings. You want to work on efficiencies and make sure money is spent properly, fine. Great. But sacrificing the health, safety and lives of those in need is not the way to develop a better system.
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