NC Voices: Mental health disorder

One of the big shortcomings of living in Maryland for a year is that I don't get to hear what's on WUNC-FM. So I was really glad to get an email this week about an in-depth series by Rose Hoban on the sad state of mental health services in North Carolina. These reports should be required listening for every state policy maker. Please follow me below the fold for a quick look at the five part series.

Housing fundamentals. Mental health reformers and state officials have repeated their intention to move people out of large institutions toward treatment options closer to home. But even as people have left hospitals, resources in the community have not kept pace. That means in North Carolina, many people with mental health disabilities live in adult care homes designed for frail elderly people. Now the U S Justice Department is investigating this situation.

Who lives where and why? One question that kept coming up as I interviewed people… what constitutes a place being an ‘institution’? It turns out that the language of the law isn’t completely clear – is an adult care home an institution or not? For many advocates, the definition of ‘institution’ comes down to this question: Would I want to live there?

Tennessee shows how its done. Around the country, advocates have come to realize that one of the most important services for people with mental health disabilities is housing – and that most people with disabilities are able to live independently with some help. States have tried many strategies to create suitable housing options. Tennessee dedicates a small amount of state money every year to local groups that are succeeding pretty well.

Roadblocks here at home. This installment of the series examines the political forces that have kept North Carolinians with mental health disabilities from moving out on their own.

A better way. This final installment of North Carolina Voices – Mental Health Disorder, surveys how North Carolina can address the housing needs of people with mental health disabilities, before the federal government forces the state to craft a solution.

At a time when our state's so-called newspaper dedicates its front page to sensational crimes and American idols, it's refreshing to see at least one journalist working hard to help people understand just how truly screwed up our state is when it comes to managing those least able to help themselves.


Be sure to click the map

I guess it's not surprising there are so many violations. When you put people incapable of advocating for themselves in the hands of policy makers who don't give a damn about anyone except the rich, you have a proven formula for abuse and neglect.


A succinct and accurate explanation of the problem, James.

I've had the opportunity to work with Rose before and have long admired her work. She's one of the most solid and professional journos on the air in NC. Wish we had a dozen more like her. I gave $ to WUNC this year and specifically said told them it was because of this report.

Good job

I always link my contributions to individuals' names ... and I'll bet Rose appreciates your comment here. It's been my experience that mental health is never on the radar of NC policy makers, and even less so these days now that the Tarheel Taliban are taking us back to the the Middle Ages. Soon we'll be turning crumbling public schools into overcrowded asylums.

Thanks for this

A wealth of important information.


Most public radio stations, like WUNC and WHQR can be heard all over the world via live streams. Most have URLs like with links to the streams from there. I have listened to WHQR from the eastern edge of Berlin.

Thanks, jmcharry

I received similar notes from five others!

Actually, I have been listening to WUNC-FM here at the farm, but only online of course ... which means I don't get my daily fix while running errands around lunch time. Instead, I'm getting my daily fix of fixing fences to keep the cows corralled!

Thanks again!