Deby Difhoff, Executive Director of NAMI NC, received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award on December 17 at her retirement party. This award is given to those with a minimum of thirty years, significant community service and demonstrated excellence in service. It is among the most sought after and valued awards conferred by the Governor of North Carolina. The Award was presented by Dave Richard, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services.
North Carolina falling behind
RALEIGH, NC (December 10, 2014) – Momentum for reform of the nation’s mental health care system slowed in 2014 as a result of failure by Congress to enact comprehensive mental health care legislation and a decrease in the number of states strengthening investment in mental health services, including North Carolina, according to a report released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
The report, State Mental Health Legislation 2014 stands in contrast to one issued in 2013 which described a dramatic response by many states following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012.
From 2009 to 2012, states cut mental health budgets by $4.35 billion. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia began to restore funding in 2013 in the wake of heightened public awareness of mental health needs.
North Carolina is listed as one of the six states that decreased mental health spending in 2013 and 2014. According to the report, “In recent years some states―in a shortsighted attempt at achieving short-term cost savings―have imposed sharp restrictions on access to psychiatric medications in their Medicaid programs…North Carolina imposed a restrictive preferred drug list and prior authorization protocol for mental health drugs as part of an effort to save Medicaid costs.”
The General Assembly wrote into the budget that the Division of Health and Human Services was responsible for $12 million annualized in cuts to mental health medications but specified it might come from rebates In order to achieve these savings, DHHS is making changes to their preferred drug list (PDL) for Medicaid and Healthchoice. NAMI NC believes this to be short sighted and will result in fact in increased costs.
The Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) released the revised PDL for public comment mid-September, and many NAMI NC members and affiliates submitted comments about their concerns. NAMI NC’s position has always been to keep access open to medications, one of the few tools people have for recovery. NAMI North Carolina was at the public meeting along with family members, individuals with mental illness, and advocates to fight to keep access open, with l7 speakers addressing the general issue of open access and the antipsychotic drug listing. The PDL panel held a public meeting on November 4, 2015. One change was made: instead of two “fail first” provisions before the individual can get the drug of their choice, there is one fail first for a particular long acting antipsychotic medication, as well as movement of this one drug back to the preferred list.
DHHS will post the finalized PDL to go into effect on January 2, 2015. At this time, the final PDL has not been posted.
NAMI NC supports exempting doctors in the LME-MCO system from these requirements, an idea which came up at the hearing, which will also maintain open access for all of the patients they serve in the public system. According to Executive Director Deby Dihoff: “We remain hopeful after conversations with the Deputy Secretary just this week that we can revisit this issue and find other ways for the Department to realize their savings while letting people stay on medications that have worked for them. It just makes no sense to have people go through this change after what is often ten years of trial and error to find the right medication.” NAMI NC will continue to advocate for keeping medications available to those with severe mental illnesses. We also don’t need for doctors to have extra paperwork requirements just to get their patients on the medications that work for them.
For 30 years, NAMI North Carolina has provided free support groups, education programs, and advocacy efforts throughout North Carolina. NAMI NC is the state’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to promoting recovery and optimizing the quality of life for those living with mental illness. Founded in 1984, NAMI NC has become North Carolina’s voice on mental illness, serving 34 local affiliates across North Carolina, who join together to meet the NAMI mission. For more information on programs, our advocacy efforts and the 34 affiliate organizations in North Carolina, visit our website at www.naminc.org.
Our Latino Outreach Specialist, Rocio Anderson, was featured on the FOX50 show HOLA on December 7 and December 14 to talk about NAMI resources and programs for the Hispanic community. The show is bilingual. Click here for more information about HOLA.
(The NAMI NC segment starts at 14:00)
(The NAMI NC segment starts at 9:50)
Give the gift of MEMBERSHIP…
This Giving Tuesday, please consider donating a membership to someone YOU know who can benefit. Or, donate $35 to NAMI North Carolina and they will use your kind donation to cover the cost of membership for someone affected by mental illness, so they too can see, they are not alone.
NAMI North Carolina provides support, education, advocacy, and public awareness so that all affected by mental illness can build better lives.
Membership to NAMI is three tiered. Members join at the national, state and affiliate level. To join click here.
On November 12, Time Warner Cable News show Capital Tonight focused on veterans and mental health and featured NAMI NC Executive Director, Deby Dihoff, and NAMI NC Board Member and veteran, Mike McMichael.
Watch the show here.
See What NAMI NC Has To Offer YOU!
Ring in the spirit of the season with a tantalizing spread of hors d’oeuvres and treats while you network with other professionals in your field, NAMI volunteers and, of course, the NAMI NC Staff!
Please join us to learn about NAMI’s FREE programs and supports and other ways to collaborate and volunteer.
We hope to see you and others from your office there!
Please RSVP to Jennifer Rothman by December 8, 2014. If you have any questions please call the office at 1-800-451-9682.
NAMI North Carolina Executive Director, Deby Dihoff, recently wrote a letter to the editor about the death of Michael Kerr in September. Her letter to the editor was published in the News & Observer, as well the Chapel Hills News and the Durham News. Click here to read the letter.
RALEIGH, NC – When law enforcement officers are called to help with a person with mental illness, sometimes the results are tragic. The new WRAL Documentary “A Call for Help” examines one family’s story and why interactions between law enforcement and those with a mental illness are increasing in North Carolina. The documentary, hosted by WRAL News anchor Lynda Loveland, airs Thursday, October 23 at 7 p.m.
Reforms to North Carolina’s mental health system that began in the early 2000s were designed to move those with mental illnesses out of large institutions like Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Hospital, and into privately run, community-based facilities. Development of those private beds fell short leaving many people with a mental illness without care. As a result, calls to 911 for help are frequently answered by law enforcement officers who are trained to deal with criminals, not with people with a mental illness in a crisis.
On January 5, 2014, the parents of 18-year-old Keith Vidal of Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina called 911 for help because their son was having a schizophrenic episode. Law enforcement officers responded and one of the officers shot and killed the teen.
“A Call for Help” examines the Keith Vidal story, and looks at new training designed to help officers interact with individuals with a mental illness mentally distressed people, to help calm those interactions and avoid violence or arrest.
NAMI NC Executive Director, Deby Dihoff was interviewed for the documentary.
Statewide Broadcast Schedule
WRAL-TV/Raleigh – Thursday, October 23 at 7 p.m.
WILM-TV/Wilmington – Saturday, October 24 at 7 p.m.
WRAZ-TV/Durham – Saturday, November 1 at 4 p.m.
To watch a preview of the documentary, go to wral.com and search: WRAL doc.
The documentary is also available for on-demand viewing here: http://www.wral.com/wral-documentary-a-call-for-help/14095091/
On twitter, follow @WRALDoc and #ACallForHelp.
WRAL Documentary is one of the only dedicated documentary units in local TV. Its mission is to provide in-depth coverage of topics and issues relevant to North Carolinians.
WRAL News Documentary Producer Clay Johnson is available for radio interviews about this program. To schedule an interview or to get more information about this documentary contact him at (919) 469-2797.
The NAMI on Campus Club at Cape Fear Community College asked students on campus some questions about mental illness in order to raise awareness for Mental Illness Awareness Week. You may be surprised by some of these students’ answers!