Mental Health Advocates Say State Is Offering Band-Aids, Not Solutions

Jan 7, 2013

Mental health advocates gather for a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Advocates for mental health services say the state’s plan to re-open 12 beds at New Hampshire Hospital doesn’t go far enough to improve care. Representatives from more than a dozen organizations gathered today in Concord, and described a system stretched beyond its limits.

And they want New Hampshire lawmakers to know that no other medical condition gets treated this way.

Budget cuts in recent years have led to a shortage of specialized care, and a waitlist for beds at the state’s psychiatric hospital. That waitlist hit a record high Monday morning: 31 adults and 5 children.

“The current practice of holding people in a mental health crisis in an emergency department for days at a time, waiting for a bed at New Hampshire hospital…it is wrong medically, legally, economically, ethically, and morally,” says Ken Norton, Executive Director for NAMI NH.

Last month, Department of Health and Human Services officials announced plans to re-open some beds.

Advocates say that’s a short term solution that doesn’t address the critical need for more community-based services.

Last year, the Disabilities Rights Center filed a lawsuit against the state claiming it isn’t meeting its obligations to treat the mentally ill.