June 2019 marked the twentieth anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark Olmstead v. L.C. decision, holding that unjustified isolation and segregation of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In its decision the Supreme Court recognized that persons with disabilities enjoy the fundamental civil right to live and participate in their communities to the fullest extent they are able.
In 2012, relying on Olmstead, DRC-NH and its partners, commenced a landmark class action case against the State of New Hampshire (Amanda D., et al. v. Hassan). The subsequent settlement, known as the Community Mental Health Settlement Agreement (CMHA), resulted in a significant expansion of community-based mental health services. According to the CMHA, New Hampshire must provide community-based services and supports to people who would otherwise be unnecessarily institutionalized at New Hampshire Hospital or the Glencliff Nursing Home.
The community-based services required by the CMHA include providing mobile crisis teams and crisis apartments, assertive community treatment (ACT), permanent supported housing (e.g., the Bridge Housing Subsidy), supported employment, and peer and family supports. Compliance with the CMHA is monitored by an Expert Reviewer, who summarizes his findings in semi-annual Expert Reviewer Reports. Although much remains to be accomplished before the State reaches compliance with the terms of the CMHA, the advances to date have helped to keep people at risk of unnecessary institutionalization in their communities.
If you, or someone you know, is an individual with a severe mental illness or emotional impairment who resides in an institution or lives in the community and has experienced difficulty accessing services, been the subject of discrimination or maybe at risk of abuse or neglect, you can report this information to us. We can assist persons in accessing and securing services and we can investigate reports of suspected abuse or neglect.
Every day, we work to ensure that New Hampshire lives up to the promise of Olmstead and we will continue to do so for the next twenty years and beyond.