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The Exchange

Moving Ahead On Mental Health Care

Thomas Fearon

In the 1990s, New Hampshire topped national rankings for its mental health system. Over the past twenty years, however, care has deteriorated to the point of crisis. With the erosion of community-based care, a ‘revolving door’ pattern of hospital admissions, and an alarming number of mentally ill Granite Staters in our prisons and jails. And so, in early 2012, the Disabilities Rights Center filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of six plaintiffs who had experienced prolonged stays in state institutions. Then late last year, the state settled the lawsuit, paving the way for $30 million to be spent over the next four years on mental health services. While that’s a lot to pull from New Hampshire’s budget, many say it will vastly help repair this ailing system and improve the lives of thousands of Granite Staters.


  • Amy Messer – legal director of New Hampshire’s Disabilities Rights Center. She was a key player in litigating the new mental healthcare settlement.
  • Ken Norton – executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in New Hampshire
  • Rebecca Woodard – Assistant Attorney General at the New Hampshire Department of Justice


  • Nick Toumpas – Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services


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