A Call to the Laity and Clergy about N.C. Mental Health Reform

Resolution

WHEREAS, Jesus said that when we do something good for the overlooked or the ignored, we have done it to Him; and when we do not do something good for the overlooked or the ignored, we have failed to do good to Him;

WHEREAS, John Wesley advocated for improved hospital conditions, better housing, and community services for the poor and ill; and

WHEREAS, the Social Principles of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church recognizes the role of governments in ensuring that each individual has access to those elements necessary to good health;

WHEREAS, the North Carolina State Legislature's Mental Health Reform Bill H831 has resulted in an unintentional reduction of services for all citizens of the state because of system fragmentation and a serious shortage of mental health professionals; and

WHEREAS, mental health "reform" started in 2001 with the premise that the public mental health system was "broken" claiming there weren't enough community services, Area Programs were "monopolies," state hospitals were overused and no new money would be needed because so much was being wasted; and

WHEREAS, now, six years later, it seems that what we meant to say was that Area Programs were "safety nets," not "monopolies." The "broken" mental health system had aspects we now sorely miss but are unlikely to be restored for some time. And so many North Carolinians will continue needlessly to suffer; and

WHEREAS, the supply of community psychiatrists essential to providing community-based care fell 16 percent per capita between 2003 and 2005, and these losses have continued even as the demand has increased; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the North Carolina Annual Conference send a letter to Governor Mike Easley, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Carmen Hooker-Odom, and Mike Moseley- Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services saying that the state can not improve the mental health services by reducing the services; and

BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that the North Carolina Annual Conference state its support of the parity bill (HB 973) requiring that health care insurance benefits covering mental illnesses be provided at the same level as benefits covering other illnesses; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the North Carolina Annual Conference state its support of the increased funding for mental health bill HB 934; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the laity and clergy of the North Carolina Annual Conference will educate themselves, their churches, and their communities about the plight of our fragile and deteriorating mental health system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the laity and clergy of the North Carolina Annual Conference shall passionately advocate on behalf of the people of North Carolina with mental illnesses and possibly follow the example of the UMW and the Board of Laity in the Rocky Mount District who invited state legislatures to meet with them and discuss such concerns.

Respectfully Submitted by the Committee on Disability Concerns and the Council on Church and Society