Focal Point: State of Minds

Posted September 26, 2007 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:03 p.m. EDT

Original Air Date: Sept. 26, 2007

In 2001 the North Carolina Legislature mandated sweeping reforms of mental health care in the state to decentralize care, moving more patients from large state-run institutions to private, community-based care programs. The state wanted to create a more cost-efficient system that would serve more patients at a lower cost and provide more choices in services.

Six years later, mental health advocates, patients and their families say the system is broken. They say there hasn’t been enough funding for community-based mental health care. And as a result, many mentally ill patients, especially those with no medical coverage, end up in emergency rooms, jails, adult care homes, homeless shelters and in some cases, dead.

Many advocates and care providers say there is more to the problem than a lack of funding. They also question the way state funds for mental health care are spent. Area mental health centers that used state funds to provide care have been transformed into local management entities that manage care instead. Those LME’s hire private companies to provide mental health services. But many advocates and care providers say they have too much power, too little accountability and don’t always spend state funds as intended.

Hosted by WRAL News anchor and reporter Cullen Browder, Focal Point: “State of Minds” profiles mentally ill patients, their families, providers and other people affected by mental health care reform in North Carolina. It looks at the challenges faced by patients and their families in a system that for many has become more complicated, confusing and harder to access. It investigates the controversial spending by some LME’s and the challenges faced by private companies as they try to provide mental health services in a more competitive environment that has driven some providers out of business.

Watch the Documentary

State of Minds

Focal Point Extras

Chantal Brown

Chantal Brown, who suffers from mental illness, tells her story about the struggles she faced trying to get the help she needed. Watch the video.

Carmen Hooker Odom

WRAL's Cullen Browder talks with former North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom, who oversaw the first five years of the effort to reform the state mental health-care system. Watch the video: Part 1 | Part 2

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Host: Cullen Browder
Writer/Producer: Clay Johnson
Photographer/Editor: Jay Jennings
Research & Production Assistant: Laura Riddle