Local News

NC task force trying to address mental health, addiction problems

Posted September 15, 2015 6:56 p.m. EDT

— A new state task force is charged with devising a plan for providing the most effective and efficient mental health and addiction services to those in need.

The Governor's Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use, which met for the first time Tuesday, includes more than two dozen representatives from every branch of state government and advocacy groups.

"To actually have the leadership of those folks there means that we can have really thoughful, intensive dialogue with the notion that good ideas can go straight to the person who can do something about it," said Jack Register, director of the North Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a task force member.

Gov. Pat McCrory said he hopes the task force will help solve problems instead of reacting to them or, in some cases, ignoring them. He wants recommendations by next May.

Gloria Harrison, whose husband is bipolar, said she has similar hopes for the effort. She said her husband's illness has gotten worse as he ages, and their neighbors now live in fear of him.

"They're basically afraid of him, and they don't really understand why. He's a very kind person unless he is manic," Harrison said. "I don't know what's going to happen to him if something happens to me."