Feds find state mental health system in violation of ADA

The good folks at Disability Rights NC issued a press release today that highlights a new 16 page report from the U.S. Department of Justice. The findings come just under a year after DRNC issued its own damning report on North Carolina’s shameful treatment of the mentially ill.

This is from the release:

Raleigh, NC After an eight-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a letter of findings accusing the State of North Carolina of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by unnecessarily institutionalizing mental health patients instead of providing support in the community. The DOJ’s investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in July 2010 by Disability Rights North Carolina, the state’s protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities.

“Finally, this is a critical step towards true recovery for people with mental illness in North Carolina,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC. “The State’s bias towards institutionalization of people with mental illness has gone unchecked for far too long.”

The central finding of the DOJ is that North Carolina lacks an adequate community support system for people with mental illness. As a result, individuals are institutionalized in more expensive and more restrictive settings in Adult Care Homes. “Most people with mental illness receiving services in adult care homes could be served in more integrated settings, but are relegated indefinitely and unnecessarily to adult care homes because of systemic State actions and policies,” wrote U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. “Reliance on unnecessary institutional settings violates the civil rights of people with disabilities. Community integration will permit the State to support people with disabilities in settings appropriate to their needs in a cost effective manner.”

You can read the entire release and Justice Department report by clicking here and here.

4 Comments

  1. Jack

    July 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks to Disability Right NC everyone knows what advocates for the civil rights of people with disabilities have known for years – the mental health system in NC is screwed up and it is harming people.

    Now, what is going to be done about it?

  2. francesjenkins

    July 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Were Easley, Rand and Basnight in charge when this happened? you failed to mention that fact.

  3. Laurie

    August 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Frances,

    Easley, Hooker-Odom, Basnight, Rand, Nye, and Black, just to name a few. But the legislature and the DHHS of the past 15 years share responsibility.

    Many legislators did not like what was going on (from both parties) but knew about it. They did not have the power to change it against the tight group of leaders through which the growth of this industry was perpetuated. I hope this situation does cause us to look at the role of lobbyists and money in ensuring that certain industries in NC are fed, even at the expense to our citizens..

    Fallen world.

    But most importantly now, we must help ACH residents arise from the ashes and have the vision for themselves to take next steps into commumity.

    But we must also consider the role of stigma in allowing this to happen. How backwards we have been! Such discrimination in our state has been allowed to ensure many pockets are filled. At least, now this is undeniable knowledge. Maybe we can evolve now.

    Laurie Coker
    Director, North Carolina Consumer Advocacy, Networking, and Support Organization

  4. notsosure

    August 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    These people are simply being being turned out of their ‘homes’ for better ‘homes’ in the newly built mental hospital inside a jail (being as putting the hospital inside the jail was a very grand idea and all). This advance is bs unless that jail and others like it are outlawed immediately, otherwise it means even more forced mental “health” guinia pig coercion and deaths, etc. than before. It is so very hard to believe that this is a truly good thing and not just another take away from the mentally ill unless that hospital inside a jail and others like it are closed down immediately. what a farce.