Just three days ago, New Hampshire set a grim record: 74 adults and kids stuck waiting in ERs across the state because there wasn’t a place for them to get mental health treatment. That’s the highest number since advocates started tracking.
That figure, which has been slowly but steadily climbing for years, was top of mind as crowds gathered for an annual walk to support those struggling with mental health challenges, hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire (or NAMI NH).
Among the more than 1,200 gathered in Concord for the event on Sunday was Jo-Ann Nolan, from Sanbornton, who recently lost a friend to suicide.
“If people were not afraid to openly discuss the issues, people wouldn’t have to suffer,” Nolan said. “I think there’s a lot of silent suffering that goes on.”
Krystal Sieradzki, from Weare, was at the walk for personal and professional reasons: for her brother, who committed suicide in 2003 at age 20; and for the clients she sees as a social worker, many of whom also struggle with mental illness.
“We have a severe bed crisis in the state right now,” Sieradzki said. “It’s … I don’t even know the word for it. It’s just completely terrible for people. They have to wait a really long time to get the help they’re seeking.”
By Saturday, the number of mental health patients stuck in ERs ticked down, according to an update given at the NAMI NH event — but just slightly, to 62 adults and two children.