Executive Order No. 76 The Governor's Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use

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WHEREAS, mental illness and substance use disorders are among the biggest health care challenges that our state will face over the next decade; and

WHEREAS, providing appropriate treatment for people with mental illness and substance use disorders can significantly benefit individuals, families, communities, and taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, the issues surrounding access to mental health and substance use treatment and recovery services must be addressed in a comprehensive approach to better use our existing resources and break down silos between government agencies and jurisdictions and the private sector; and

WHEREAS, the DHHS Crisis Solutions Initiative has resulted in initiatives to improve our mental health system, brought together community leaders to provide creative solutions, and promoted strategic crisis solutions that have been supported by the Governor and General Assembly; and

WHEREAS, pilot Mental Health and Substance Abuse Courts have shown success in obtaining compliance with appropriate treatment regimens and have the potential to reduce the amount of mental illness-related and substance use-related crime and the number of individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders in our jails and prisons; and

WHEREAS, providing appropriate early identification and treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders was a focus area for the Governor's Safer Schools initiative because untreated mental health disorders or substance use can affect academic achievement, family violence, medical needs, out of home placement, incarceration rates, and the overall cost associated with these problems to society.

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Governor by the Constitution and laws of the State of North Carolina, IT IS ORDERED:

Section 1. Establishment

The Governor's Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use is hereby established (hereinafter, "Task Force").

Section 2. Membership

1. The Task Force shall consist of twenty four (24) members, including the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, and the Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. One member from the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House, and one member of the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tempore. Seven members from the justice system and related private sector professionals shall be appointed by the Chief Justice. The Governor shall appoint 11 public members, including those from the healthcare provider community, county leadership, government and non-government entities, and private sector employers. The Task Force shall be Co-Chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Section 3. Meetings

The Task Force shall meet as necessary to properly exercise its functions, but no less frequently than quarterly, or upon the call of the Governor or the Co-Chairs.

Section 4. Duties

The Task Force shall, by May 1, 2016, submit finding and strategic recommendations to the Governor for improving the lives of North Carolina children and adults with mental illness and substance use disorders and their families. In creating these strategic findings and recommendations, the non-judicial members of the Task Force do the following:

  1. Evaluate the linkages between agencies of state government and local government and create recommendations for the transfer of existing best practices across the state;
  2. Examine the role of mental health and other specialty courts currently in North Carolina to determine how they can best be utilized to improve our efforts to address and reduce the extent to which individuals suffer from untreated mental health disorders and substance use problems;
  3. Examine successful efforts to heighten awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health treatment in our state and recommendations on how to improve these efforts;
  4. Examine the ways the justice system can best handle cases of young people with mental illness and substance use disorders to provide them the best opportunity to reach their full potential as North Carolina citizens;
  5. Examine the link between foster care and the need for mental health and substance use services to improve outcomes for teenagers when they leave the foster care system; and
  6. Any other duties as assigned by the Governor or the Co-Chairs.

Any strategic findings and recommendations made by judicial members of the Task Force shall be limited to how mental health and substance use issues relate to the administration of justice. Judicial members of the Task Force will be deemed to have recused themselves from any findings or recommendations unrelated to the court system or the administration of justice.

Section 5. Administration

The Department of Health and Human Services shall provide administrative and staff support services, including meeting space, as may be required. Members of the Task Force shall serve without compensation, but may receive reimbursement for travel in accordance with State law and the policies and regulations of the Office of State Budget and Management.

Section 6. Effect and Duration

The Executive Order is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until October 1, 2016.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and affixed the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina at the Capitol in the City of Raleigh, this fourteenth day of July in the year of our Lord two thousand and fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-nine.

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