DRC-NH welcomes the Governor’s commitment to moving civilly committed persons out of the prison, placing children and adolescents in a more appropriate treatment setting and giving persons confined in the emergency rooms due process without delay. His pledge to immediately address most of the recommendations in the 10-year mental health plan also is commendable and one we support.
There are aspects of the governor’s remarks, however, that bear more consideration. The State’s performance on some areas of the Community Mental Health Agreement (CMHA) has declined in recent months. Those areas of non-compliance include assertive community treatment (ACT) services and supported housing. Both are critical components of the CMHA and essential to the long-term health of our citizens. If the State redoubled its efforts to fully implement these services and expanded its investment in mobile crisis teams, it could free up needed bed space at New Hampshire Hospital for people currently confined in emergency departments and at the secure psychiatric unit in the prison. Without making investments in these services, any expansion of the State’s institutional and transitional bed capacity creates a significant risk of unnecessarily institutionalizing people who could and should be supported in their communities.
“As the Governor and legislature move forward in the coming months, we urge them to carefully consider specific actions and oversight that will ensure a more balanced approach to improving our mental health system, rather than relying on an unnecessary increase in bed capacity.”
– Pamela Phelan, DRC-NH Litigation Director