Local News

Feds respond to complaints about N.C. mental health services

Posted November 24, 2010 6:59 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2010 9:13 p.m. EST

— The United States Justice Department has notified North Carolina that it plans to investigate claims made in a complaint filed last summer by Disability Rights North Carolina.

The advocacy group alleges that mentally ill people are being housed in adult care homes that lack the qualifications to care for people with psychiatric disabilities.

Disability Rights claims thousands of people with mental illness do not have appropriate alternatives for care, a situation which they say violates federal law.

"The state has been struggling with trying to find a way to develop appropriate community services and they failed to do so, not because the current secretary of DHHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) doesn't have a vision but because he can't get funding for that vision," said Vicki Smith, a spokeswoman for Disability Rights.

Smith said the investigation is a huge first step to correcting mental health reform in North Carolina.

In a letter to DHHS, the Department of Justice asked for specific information by the middle of December.

A DHHS spokesman said it will cooperate.