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Invest in mental health services, especially evidence-based, recovery oriented services that can prevent the highly expensive and damaging consequences of not receiving timely mental health treatment.

Mental health systems address individual and community needs around mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities. In recent years, the capacity to provide these services has been eroded by sharp cuts in funding. The need for mental health services far exceeds the availability of these services.

An effective system to address the mental health needs of our community would:[1]

  • Integrate physical care to address the “whole” person;
  • Include access to prescription medication with metrics to monitor quality and outcomes;
  • Ensure Medicaid expansion covers mental health services;
  • Support initiatives for statewide implementation of effective practices to serve people living with mental illness. 

Examples of effective practices include Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (F-ACT) programs to serve people with high intensity, complex needs. First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs help young people with emerging psychosis launch successfully into adult roles. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) initiatives treat a range of mental illnesses effectively. Peer and family support programs strengthen the ability of natural supporters to promote recovery. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs establish partnerships between law enforcement and mental health systems. 

The NC Department of Health and Human Services and the LME/MCOs across the state should develop a plan to implement these goals.

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