We need to get serious about the goal of quality health care for all
Thousands of our fellow citizens struggle everyday with mental health concerns.
My background in health care tells me that it makes no sense to separate mental from physical health care. The best research confirms that many patients have mixed mental and physical health issues. Thus I am proud that my plan for expanding health care coverage to all children and more low-wage working parents has been praised by such leading advocates as Adam Searing of the North Carolina Health Access Coalition for containing "the most significant changes in health care access in North Carolina in, quite literally, decades." To read more, go to bevperdue.com/healthcare.
Specifically in the mental health arena, my priorities include the following:
1) Extend Community Care model to mental health
2) Establish a “safety net” for those in need
We must also develop a basic safety-net which those in need of mental health services will have available to them. These core elements will provide a strong foundation for a true community-based system of care. Today there are just too many opportunities for people in need to fall between the cracks.
The quality and degree of care cannot be dictated by zip code. That is why I will take such immediate steps as expansion of the Office of Rural Health's loan forgiveness initiative to place more mental health professionals in the rural parts of
I know that we cannot neglect the need for strong in-patient services. To the extent possible, these services should also be community-based, close to home, family, and other resources. But the state cannot walk away from its obligations. If needed services are absent in a local area due to a lack of private providers, we must work to put them into place through public facilities.
3) Overhaul system to focus on outcomes
The state's overall approach to planning and implementation in mental health care must also be overhauled. We need a fundamental shift to a focus on outcomes – setting high program and service standards and then clearly stating what results we can and should expect while setting up the conditions most likely to achieve the best possible outcome for each person.
One way we can foster the highest quality services is to actively promote the best practices in the field. My vision is for the state to develop centers of excellence within our colleges and universities to advance evidence-based models and continue to build capacity for high-quality services across the state. Through these evidence-based models we can point the way to more effective and efficient services. We can also better support the ongoing training and development of our professionals who work in the fields of mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services.
I know that changing mental health care in
Many people, both professionals and volunteer advocates all across this state, are working their hardest every day to improve our system. The scale, complexity, and rapidity of change that they have endured over the past few years have been daunting but they are committed and determined. Our state needs the benefit of multiple perspectives as we work through the serious issues now facing our system. We will need to adopt a disciplined approach to maximizing system improvements. And we must make sure that government officials and the mental health community listen to and learn from one another.