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.

New mental health data show ‘unsustainable’ burden on NC hospitals

This article was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and co-published with WRAL-TV. By Taylor Knopf A 9-year-old girl with mental health issues spent at least four months this spring living in a Novant Health emergency room in Wilmington: sleeping, eating, doing school work. During that time, emergency department staff searched…