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.