01/27/07 — Action, not talk: Mental health system needs immediate attention

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Action, not talk: Mental health system needs immediate attention

Hearing the comments at a recent gathering of local representatives of government agencies and support organizations about providing mental health services to Wayne County patients ought to make county and state officials pause — and the rest of us a little worried.

The representatives said that many of these people — some of whom could be potentially hazardous to the community and/or themselves — were finding it difficult to get the care and the medicines they need because of the newly “reformed” mental health service laws.

Some are frustrated because getting care is more difficult, while others simply do not seem to know how to start.

The agency workers say they are trying to cover the need, but that there are lots of patients and much more difficulty in getting care and information to them and their families or caretakers.

And that is a serious problem.

While we are talking about economic development, schools and Medicaid costs, local and state representatives really need to get serious about figuring out what to do about what can only be called the serious disconnects in mental health services.

And our local leaders ought to be out front pushing — hard — to get some action now.

Hearing that there are patients who are not taking their medicine and not finding care or treatment for their disorders is bad enough. But to add that they are heading back into society and schools without the monitoring they need, is not good news for any Wayne County resident.

And it is a problem that needs to be at the top of county officials’ lists — even if they are not the ones directly responsible for the change that caused the problem.

Those who gathered this past week have issued a wake-up call for the community that there is a problem that is getting worse.

Now, it is up to those who should be paying attention here to take their concerns to Raleigh and to get something done.

This is one issue for which we should be prepared to demand action. No excuses. No bureaucracy. No turf wars. No empty promises. What we need is a concrete plan to address the problem as soon as possible.

We will see if anyone is listening.

Published in Editorials on January 27, 2007 10:58 PM