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.
By Taylor Knopf Some of the state’s top health organizations are asking North Carolina leaders for a meeting to address what they’re calling a “behavioral health emergency.” The COVID-19 pandemic caused immeasurable stress and loss, resulting in more people needing mental health services. The demand increase has strained North Carolina’s already fractured mental health system. …
As more mental health patients find themselves handcuffed in a police car headed to a psychiatric hospital, a bipartisan group of lawmakers filed a package of bills that would offer community-based alternatives for people in mental health crisis.
When given the chance to rethink police involvement in responding to people in mental health crisis, most counties maintained the status quo.
This is the third part in an occasional series examining the consequences of North Carolina’s increased use of forced psychiatric treatment.
Advocates found the state had a big problem, but because no one was counting, no one was aware of how many psychiatric patients were being treated against their will.
This is the second story in a series about how more people in mental health crisis end up involuntarily committed for treatment and why that’s a problem.
North Carolina’s use of involuntary commitment for mental health patients increased by 91 percent over a decade. This is the first in an occasional series of stories where we’ll explore what factors are contributing to this rise and what it means for patients.