First United Methodist Church - Cary
Friday, May 24, 2013
Connect with God, People, and Service
Health Ministries - Mental Health Concerns
Have you, your family or friends been touched by the pain of a psychiatric illness? Public news is full of incidents that can be traced to mental disorders which have not been properly diagnosed, treated or had follow-up care. We pray for the mentally ill but there is still more that we can do.
The N.C. General Assembly is back in Raleigh. There will be pressure to cut mental health care funding. Dorothea Dix Hospital property is a prime target. Please join me in sending a personal e-mail or letter to our NC Senators and Representatives. View sample letters and targeted legislators below.
Call Carolyn Corn at 851-0674, if you have comments, questions or do not have e-mail access. I can mail sample letters to you.
November 25, 2010
The Raleigh News & Observer published an article yesterday that announced that the U.S. Justice Department has opened a formal investigation into our struggling mental health system. To those of us who have seen our loved ones suffer as well as those who have seen the suffering as they have struggled to provide care, we welcome this investigation with open arms. From the beginning of the mental health reform, we as the advocates for those with mental illness have clearly voiced our concerns about how this was being handled by previous administrations and we have offered suggestions for improvement. This is well documented.
Recently we have raised the public awareness of what is happening with those who are struggling with their brain diseases, by providing reports about State Psychiatric Hospital Admission Delays in North Carolina: January-June 2010 and another, Prisons & Jails are North Carolina’s New Mental Hospitals (www.nami-wake.org ). Earlier this month a coalition of communities and organizations from across the state held a rally and march to the Governor’s Mansion to voice our unified concern with regards to closing Dorothea Dix Hospital. This effort resulted in support from a demographically representative cross section of the population living in North Carolina. The public understands that health care does not have to be provided in a new building. Care is provided by trained and caring professionals, like those professionals that have been serving our residents in need at Dorothea Dix Hospital. We do not need new buildings. We need more psychiatric hospital beds for those who have needs that cannot be adequately served in community hospitals. DHHS even recognized this as recently as October 29, 2009, when Renee McCoy, DHHS spokesperson said in a statement to WRAL, “because of an overall shortage of patient beds, Dix will stay open for at least three more years as an overflow unit and to house children and adolescents in need of long-term care.” The shortage of patient beds has not gone away in one year, it has grown worse.
We are sensitive to the issues of budget and financial hardship. We recognize that you face difficult decisions regarding state resources. However, we can not forget that even in better times, the funding of mental health was never adequate, and the Mental Health Trust Fund was a piggy bank used to balance previous budgets. Land that was given to the state to provide care for those with mental illness has been given to others as political favors, such as the new golf course for NC State, the Lonnie Poole Golf Course, or the Centennial Campus, or the Farmers’ Market. It is our collective position that despite the financial and political pressures to allow the land to be turned over to state offices and further NC State encroachment, or turn it into a city park, that the state be committed to keeping its valued facility in the manner the citizens of the state prefer; a mental health treatment center. In making the difficult decisions regarding the state resources for next fiscal year, remember that other state leaders had to make difficult decisions under even worse economic conditions, such as during the Great Depression. They reacted with compassion for those less fortunate, and chose to keep Dix open.
We are reaching out to you again, in hopes that you will recognize the importance of Dix for what it represents to different people in our society. To mental health advocates it is the foundation of the mental health system of North Carolina. Dorothea Dix Hospital is as important a landmark to the Dix Campus as Old East (built in 1793) is to the University of North Carolina. Today Dix is the only long term treatment facility in the state for patients with complex medical and psychological problems and the facility that is turned to when other sister hospitals need specialized care. To educators, Dix is a valued resource for training. To law enforcement it represents less time in emergency rooms waiting for psychiatric beds for those under involuntary commitment papers and less transportation costs and personnel distraction from policing our streets. To volunteers, churches and the business community it is a place to contribute and show the best parts of our citizenry. To families, it is an accessible opportunity for patient contact with nearby sources for assistance. To some patients, it is a central location to access community jobs and education from which to return to our collective state community as prepared, contributing citizens. To some Dix is a historic achievement and to others it is an important social lesson that we are hard to forget. It is not just a place. It is part of our North Carolina identity.
We are again reaching out to you to lead our state with compassion for those in need of mental health care and treatment. Keeping Dorothea Dix Hospital will demonstrate to the state and DOJ that you are serious about providing for them.
Dr. Don Crohan Gerry Akland
Psychologist, DDH President, NAMI Wake County
James Wells, M.D. add other affiliates