State News

Perdue releases updated mental health plan

Posted September 26, 2008 7:26 p.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2008 11:57 a.m. EDT

— Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue says she will make unannounced visits to state mental hospitals and community service offices if elected governor.

The Democratic nominee released an updated mental health platform Friday, expanding on comments the lieutenant governor has made during the campaign.

The state's mental health care system has been a hot topic in this election after the deaths of several patients, the arrest of several hospital workers for patient abuse and the temporary loss of federal funding by several hospitals. The problems largely stem from a failed set of reforms passed in 2001.

A spokeswoman for Perdue's Republican rival, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, said that Perdue did "absolute nothing" to correct the problems as lieutenant governor and chairwoman of the Health and Wellnes Trust Fund.

"Now that she is a few weeks out from Election Day, the lietutenant governor has drafted a mental health plan that should have been written and acted on eight years ago," McCrory campaign spokesman Amy Auth said. "North Carolina needs a governor who cares about the most vulnerable citizens even when it's not an election year."

In her updated plan, Perdue pledged to make "spot check" inspections within the Department of Health and Human Services to know what's going on.

She also said that she will require better case management of patient care to ensure a minimal level of mental health care statewide.

The creation of "mental health courts" also would have judges with special training help defendants find proper treatment. Perdue also wants to expand incentives for professionals to work in rural North Carolina and to improve training in community colleges and universities.