DHHS announces new mental health, substance abuse effort

The state’s health and human services agency launched an effort today for what it hopes better helps those dealing with mental health or substance abuse crises.

The “Crisis Solutions Initiative” announced Thursday morning by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos wants to stem the emergency room visits by those suffering from mental health issues, and instead steer them to community resources. DHHS estimated that there were 150,000 visits to emergency rooms in the state last year for addiction-related issues or psychiatric conditions.

“With today’s announcement, we begin a focused, long-term effort to ensure that individuals and families who are experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis know where to turn for the help they need,” Wos said in a written statement. “In turn, we can begin to reduce the tremendous burden that these issues place on hospital emergency departments and law enforcement.”

The initiative is in the planning stages, according to a DHHS news release.

From the news release:

As a part of this initiative, a Crisis Solutions Coalition will be created to address the inefficiencies that currently exist surrounding crisis services in the state. Secretary Wos has charged Dave Richard, director of the DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disability and Substance Abuse Services, with leading this coalition. Patient advocates, along with leaders from healthcare, government, and law enforcement communities will be invited to join the coalition to help:

  • Recommend and establish community partnerships to strengthen the continuum of care for mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Promote education and awareness of alternative community resources to the use of emergency departments.
  • Make recommendations related to data sharing to help identify who, when and where people in crisis are served, and what the results of those services are.
  • Create a repository of evidence-based practices and provide technical assistance to Local Management Entities/Managed Care Organizations (LME/MCOs), law enforcement and providers on how to respond to crisis scenarios.
  • Recommend legislative, policy and funding changes to help break down barriers associated with accessing care.
  • Assist with the creation of LME-MCO Local Business Plans to provide a road map for mental health investments in the community.



  1. ML

    November 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Seems like the first solid idea from DHHS with Wos at the helm. I hope it works out but like they the best laid plans of mice and men…

  2. Ralph Rodland

    November 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Shared this story with some colleagues at work, and someone replied:

    Hmmm, I didn’t know addition was such a problem in NC…

    Check the second paragraph, should read addiction and not addition.

    Thanks for posting this though…I’ll be monitoring closely.

  3. Sarah Ovaska

    November 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Oops, thanks for catching that. It’s fixed now.

  4. Gene Hoglan

    November 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

  5. GOP Rules

    November 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

    ML/Alan/whoever you are today,
    Wos has had a very tough job handed her with an out of control government entity that was, and actually still is, coming off the rails. She has, as all of us would, made some not great decisions, but has overall done a good job considering the poor state of affairs. We just need to give some time for the reforms and ideas to work rather than focusing on evicerating them.

    As far as the Alan/ML thing, and their insistence that I am three people on this board. Maybe we need to get the administrators involved. I ask, do I post from the same IP addresses as the LSD/NWC people. And do Alan/ML post from the same IP? Maybe we can solve this stupid debate.

  6. LayintheSmakDown

    November 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I would like them to settle it too. While I sometimes agree with you, I prefer to not always be associated.

  7. Alan

    November 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    GOP Rules/LSD,

    What a crock-of-****. Typical GOP hypocrisy, so let’s use your own logic and apply it to the ACA (lovingly referred to as Obamacare).

    “We just need to give some time for the reforms and ideas to work rather than focusing on eviscerating them.” Seriously??? Well then, I’m sure you’ll be in full agreement that initial problems with the ACA website should be given some time to work, rather than be eviscerated?

  8. ML

    November 10, 2013 at 10:18 am

    There’s your mother flippin smack down on the civitas employees who go through the trouble of changing IP addresses just to hide their blatant attempt to spread propaganda.

  9. ML

    November 10, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Maybe if you used more than the simple minded republican talking points that are spread by Art Popes army we might believe you are in fact at least different people all employed by the republican spin machine.

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