THE EXCHANGE FEATURES EXTENDED CONVERSATION ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
Each year, roughly 50,000 people are treated through the State of New Hampshire’s community mental health centers. A four-day, in-depth series from New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange will take a closer look at just how the state’s system of care is working for the patients in need of services and the providers who are on the front-lines every day.
A legal settlement first announced in December 2013 required the state of New Hampshire to expand services and make improvements in its care for the mentally ill. Millions of dollars were allotted to establish more community-based health services – in an effort to keep people living independently and out of institutions. The settlement – stemming from a major class-action lawsuit – was designed to ensure the state developed a plan for community mental health services that was more responsive to the needs of the mentally ill. With host Laura Knoy, guests on the in-depth series will assess and discuss how the state is performing in the wake of that settlement, and hear from individuals and families first-hand who are struggling with mental health issues.
“Mental health is a common thread that connects many of the social and public health issues we face in our state, including substance abuse and opioid addiction,” said Ellen Grimm, Senior Producer of The Exchange. “With many families facing the double challenge of trying to help and support a mentally ill individual and navigating resources to find the appropriate care, we felt it fitting to take a closer look at this issue and discuss both the current situation and some of the solutions that can help.”
Other conversations in the series will include:
- How the courts and the wider criminal justice system are responding to inmates and defendants who suffer from mental health disorders.
- How New Hampshire Hospital in Concord – the state’s long-established hospital designed to treat the mentally ill – fits into the care spectrum of community-based transitional housing to serve people after they are treated.
Listeners of the program are encouraged to join the dialogue and submit questions throughout the week at the homepage nhpr.org/exchange, where show summaries and recaps will be posted. In addition, questions can be submitted online or through social media (Twitter: @NHPRExchange or Facebook: @nhprexchange). Members of the public can also e-mail their questions/comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRAM DETAILS: The Exchange In-Depth
DATES: Monday, May 21 – Thursday, May 24
9: 00 – 10:00 a.m. – Live on New Hampshire Public Radio.
7 – 8 p.m. – Rebroadcast on NHPR.
Monday, May 21: Monday’s edition of the show will set an overall frame for the scope of the mental health issue in New Hampshire, including identifying key challenges facing the mental health system and assessing progress with building a community support network to help keep people out of institutionalized care.
- Ken Norton, LICSW, ACSW, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (New Hampshire)
- Katja Fox, Director of the Division for Behavioral Health, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
[Program note: The final 20 minutes of the Monday program will be devoted to an interview with Mark MacKenzie, a Democratic candidate running for the 1st Congressional District seat. The interview is part of NHPR’s Race for the First series.]
Tuesday, May 22: Children’s Mental Health
Children and adolescents with mental or behavioral health needs have their own treatment challenges, and face different legal questions around their care. The opioid crisis in New Hampshire is also intensifying the issue, and suicide remains a top cause of death for New Hampshire’s teens.
National statistics show approximately one in five youth aged 13-18 (21.4%) experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their lives; for children aged 8-15, the estimate is 13.3%
Tuesday’s program will look at how the state is responding to the special needs of children and adolescents, and how families and children are making decisions about care together. Confirmed guests include:
- Jodie Lubarsky, Director of Child, Adolescent and Family Services at Seacoast Mental Health Center.
- Erica Ungarelli, Director of The Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
Wednesday, May 23 – Criminal Justice and Mental Health
The criminal justice system and mental illness are inextricably linked – inmates often suffer from mental illness or substance abuse; mental illnesses or untreated mental conditions can impact criminal behavior. Attorneys who work in the criminal justice system and a law enforcement officer will share their perspectives on whether the court system is equipped to address mental health issues. Confirmed guests:
- Donna Brown, Public Defender for more than 20 years; Board Member of National Alliance on Mental Illness, NH
- Tom Velardi, Prosecutor, Strafford County Attorney’s Office
- Taunya Jarzyniecki, LCMHC, Therapist and Court Liaison, The Community Connections program, The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester
Thursday, May 24 – The State Hospital & Community Support System
The final day of The Exchange series will probe a critical point on the mental health care pathway: hospital services and transitional housing before and after treatment. How can people be better connected to services? How can a more responsive support system keep people from even needing to be hospitalized?
- Lori Shibinette, Chief Executive Officer, New Hampshire Hospital.
- Noel Chipman, Clinical Coordinator for Concord Transitional Housing Services at NFI North Inc.
- John Dixon, father and mental health services advocate
- The Exchange is New Hampshire’s only locally-produced, statewide call-in talk show, hosted by Laura Knoy. The program airs live from 9 to 10 a.m. on NHPR Monday to Friday, and is rebroadcast from 7 to 8 p.m. weekday evenings.
- Follow the program on Twitter: @NHPRExchange, Instagram: nhprexchange or Facebook @nhprexchange
[NOTE: May also marks Mental Health Awareness Month, when many government organizations, advocacy groups and anyone interested in mental health issues conduct activities or awareness campaigns to foster better understanding about mental health illnesses and treatment. The month-long commemoration began in 1949, led by the advocacy group Mental Health America.
The National Institutes of Mental Health is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. ]
Since 1981, NHPR has shaped the media landscape in the Granite State and beyond. Our mission is “Expanding minds, sparking connections, building stronger communities.” NHPR is broadcast from 14 different sites, making it by far New Hampshire’s largest (and only) statewide radio news service. Every week, NHPR is the choice of more than 170,000 listeners as a primary source of in-depth and intelligent news coverage, with thousands more viewing NHPR.org and NHPR social media sites. Each day, New Hampshire Public Radio delivers several hours of local news reported by its award-winning news team. Locally-produced programs include The Exchange, Word of Mouth, The Folk Show, Outside/In, Civics 101, and numerous podcasts. NHPR is the exclusive outlet for NPR News in the Granite State and broadcasts national weekly programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and This American Life.
 Community Behavioral Health Association, February 2017.
 National Institute of Mental Health, via National Alliance on Mental Illness.