North Carolina in mental health state of emergency, providers say

North Carolina's behavioral health crisis has reached a state of emergency, the North Carolina Healthcare Association and 11 other groups said in a June 14 letter to lawmakers. 

The North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians, North Carolina Nurses Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC are among the 11 other groups that penned the letter.

The groups said they're seeing skyrocketing demand for mental health services that cannot be met by the state's current mental health system. As of December 2020, nearly 40 percent of emergency room visits involving children were for behavioral health concerns, state hospital data shows. In the last decade, hospitals have also reported a 91 percent increase in involuntary commitments. 

"Quite simply, the behavioral health crisis across North Carolina has reached a state of emergency, and we urgently need your leadership and collaboration to address it," the organizations said in the letter addressed to Gov. Roy Cooper, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore.

"Given the once-in-a-lifetime federal resources to address health inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, we have an extraordinary opportunity to build the comprehensive treatment system our citizens deserve," they added, requesting a meeting with the state leaders to discuss the issue.

To read the full letter, click here.

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