When someone experiences a mental health crisis, they are often met by police officers. The person is handcuffed and taken to a hospital, where the doors are locked and medication is forced on them. Patients leave traumatized, saying they are reluctant to seek psychiatric help in the future. This is the crisis state of North Carolina’s behavioral health system, which relies heavily on law enforcement, emergency rooms and involuntary commitments. In this series, we report some of the reasons behind the rise of involuntary commitment petitions in North Carolina and how it impacts patients seeking help.

Durham 11-year-old was sexually assaulted in NC psychiatric hospital, parents allege

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to stigma attached to mental illness and sexual assault, this article assigns the pseudonym Marie to a child committed to a psychiatric hospital. Her parents are identified by their first names only. And a caution: This article mentions self-harm, suicide and sexual assault. If you need mental health support, call or text…