Mayor Kevin C. Foy announced the establishment of a Mental Health Task Force to discuss, examine and assess the provision of mental health care in Chapel Hill.
The failed mental health system in North Carolina has forced mentally ill residents of communities throughout North Carolina, including Chapel Hill, to fend for themselves for much needed treatment and medication. Over the past seven years, mental health programs in Orange County and counties across the state have either discontinued services or become independent nonprofit organizations operating with limited resources. The location of UNC Hospitals, a state hospital, uniquely affects Chapel Hill and Orange County since UNC Hospitals acts as a point of entry for many mentally ill patients who upon discharge stay in Chapel Hill in perpetuity.
“The future of mental health care in Chapel Hill and throughout North Carolina is uncertain “Mayor Kevin C. Foy said. “Therefore, local municipalities must think more about how this will affect the health and vitality of our communities.”
The Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force will be chaired by Natalie Ammarell, Ph.D, who has had a long career as a consultant, teacher and mentor around the challenges of human service delivery in the nonprofit and public sectors. She spent a number of years grappling with the impact of deinstitutionalization of the mental health system in Massachusetts. In 2004, Mayor Foy and Dr. Ammarell co-chaired a community planning task force that developed recommendations for the future of the Inter-Faith Council.
“Mental health issues are sometimes invisible,” Dr. Ammarell said. This task force will offer a great opportunity to come together to make sure we are addressing the needs of Chapel Hill residents. In addition to making recommendations, we will be able to raise the profile of this topic within the community.”
The task force will be charged to 1) assess the state of the mental health care system in the greater Chapel Hill community, focusing on the services provided, funding and impact on the community as a whole; 2) create broader awareness of mental health care issues in Chapel Hill and generate discussion; and 3) provide recommendations to the Town Council and County Commissioners regarding the future of mental health care services for residents of Chapel Hill and Orange County.