Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Presents Update to Legislative Committee
Governor Pat McCrory’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use provided a legislative committee with an update of its work to improve mental/behavioral health services in North Carolina. The task force will present its final report to Governor McCrory in May.
“We’ve made a lot of progress addressing mental health needs and trying to reduce substance abuse in our state,” Governor McCrory said. “This task force was charged with examining and streamlining the systems we have in place and I look forward to receiving their recommendations to determine the path forward.”
Appearing before the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services were task force co-chairs, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin and Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer.
They updated the legislative committee on a wide variety of issues being studied by the task force. These issues include: raising awareness of mental health and substance use; reducing stigma; and evaluating the use of heroin/opioids in North Carolina to offer recommendations to support prevention, treatment and recovery.
The task force builds on the renewed commitment of Governor McCrory, the General Assembly and the judicial system to better address the mental health needs of the state. That renewed commitment began in 2013 with the introduction of the Crisis Solutions Initiative. This initiative includes Mental Health First Aid. It also launched Crisis Intervention Team training, which taught nearly 8,200 law enforcement officers in crisis intervention for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The Crisis Solution Initiative also launched 12 pilots for the Community Paramedicine Behavioral Health Crisis Response Model, which allows paramedics to transport patients in mental health crisis directly to behavioral health crisis centers instead of hospital emergency departments or in some cases, jail.
Considerable progress has been achieved under Governor McCrory in the delivery of behavioral/mental health services in the criminal justice system through the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act. The act proscribes a data-driven approach designed to increase public safety, reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars. Under the act, North Carolina has:
- Strengthened community supervision with the addition of 175 probation and parole officers
- Increased the number of people supervised after release from prison
- Invested in behavioral health treatment in North Carolina
The task force is a historic collaboration between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of North Carolina state government and demonstrates Governor McCrory’s commitment to improve the delivery of mental health services in the community and corrections system.
“I am grateful for the leadership that Chief Justice Martin and Secretary Brajer have given to this task force,” Governor McCrory said. “I look forward to their recommendations to leverage the strengths of our various systems to find the best ways to make progress in the future.”