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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services

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Archived Updates

August 23, 2013

Press Release

DHHS Releases Bridge Funding to Support Individuals Living in Group Homes

August 21, 2013


Raleigh, N.C. -  Today, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced the availability of bridge funding to support individuals living in North Carolina group homes who are no longer eligible for Medicaid-funded Personal Care Services (PCS).  To receive bridge funds, each group home must submit information to DHHS about all funding sources to assist the Department in developing a long-term sustainability plan for residents.
"Our primary concern is to ensure stability for individuals who live in group homes," said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos.  "We are actively working with the group home industry to identify short and long term solutions for caring for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities."
In a memo to leaders of the statewide network of local management entity-managed care organizations (LME/MCO), the Department outlined the process for distributing funding.  As of January 1, eligibility requirements for PCS changed under state law.  In the recently passed budget, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly allocated $4.6 million in one-time funding for supplemental short-term assistance for group homes.
Funding will be provided to group homes with a .5600A and .5600C designation that house individuals who did not qualify for personal care services as of January 1, 2013.  The department will allocate funds through the LME/MCOs, which shall distribute monthly payments as directed in Session Law 2013-360:

SL 2013-360 12A.2A.(c)(2):  "A group home that receives the monthly payments authorized by this section shall not, under any circumstances, use these payments for any purpose other than providing, as necessary, supervision and medication management for a resident who meets all criteria specified in subsection (b) of this section."

Each group home will receive a monthly payment of $464.30 on behalf of each qualifying resident during fiscal year 2013-2014.  Residents are not eligible for bridge funding if a Medicaid appeal has been filed and Maintenance of Service has been granted for PCS.  Funding will continue through June 30, 2014 or until funds have been depleted.
The Department of Health and Human Services will be presenting a long-term plan for individuals residing in group homes to the General Assembly by April 2014.

Click here to download the memo.

May 21, 2013

Intellectual and Developmental Disability Advocate Named to DHHS Leadership Team

Today, Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos announced Dave Richard has been appointed Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, effective May 28, 2013.

"Dave is a highly skilled and accomplished leader in the mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse advocacy community," Secretary Wos said. "His extensive expertise in program implementation, public education, government affairs, and his deep understanding of individual and community needs will help us improve customer service as we seek to help every North Carolinian fulfill their potential."
Mr. Richard spent nearly 25 years as executive director of The Arc of North Carolina and has held leadership roles within The Arc of the United States. Prior to his role with The Arc of North Carolina, he served as executive director for The Arc of Delaware and The Arc of Louisiana. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree, with a major concentration in elementary education, from Louisiana State University.


May 6, 2013

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week
Focuses on Reducing Stigma 

The week of May 5-11, 2013 has been designated by multiple advocacy groups as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week to increase public awareness surrounding the issues of children’s mental health, to reduce any stigma that might be associated with seeking treatment and to provide resources for anyone that might be seeking services for a child or youth they know.  The theme of the week is Out of the Shadows: Exposing Stigma.  

“Positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth,” said Jim Jarrard, acting director of the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (DMH/DD/SAS).  “This week communities across the state and the nation are raising awareness about the importance of children’s mental health.”

One such group is North Carolina Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience (NC MOVE).  NC MOVE is a diverse group of older North Carolina youth and young adults living with mental health challenges and substance abuse issues who are working to empower youth, raise awareness of youth challenges, and to reduce the stigma attached to mental health. From their perspective,

  • Living with the stigma associated with mental health can be overwhelming. This is enhanced by the media and a culture that perpetuates negative stereotypes.
  • Kids that feel alone can lead to further isolation and a greater chance of building negative thoughts and connecting with peer groups such as gangs.
  • Children don’t have control over their lives, and their brains have not developed fully, this makes it more difficult to navigate the mental health system.
  • Many youth and their caregivers do not have access to resources or culturally appropriate community-based mental health programs.

While some children are able to cope with life stressors and trauma that impact their mental health and well-being with the support of their families, many need professional behavioral health treatment. 

“Social and emotional problems impair up to 14 percent of children nationally and the consequences impact society beyond measure,” said Susan Robinson, mental health program manager at DMH/DD/SAS.  “Reducing barriers for families seeking help and building on child, youth and family strengths are essential steps in prevention and early intervention.”

Mental health is essential to overall health and well-being for adults.  Often children are not part of the conversation regarding mental health, but serious emotional and mental health disorders in children and youth are real and are treatable.  Children and youth with mental health challenges and their families deserve access to services and supports that are family-driven, youth-guided and culturally appropriate.

Please join in community events and celebrations. To learn more:

For additional information about children and who live with or are at risk for mental health challenges and how you can help or seek help for a child or family you know, please refer to the resources below.



May 1, 2013

May is Mental Health Month
The theme for 2013 is Pathways to Wellness

Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life.  While we may have different ideas about what wellness means, it does involve a set of skills and strategies that prevent the onset, or shorten the duration of, illness and promote recovery and well-being.  It is about staying healthy as well as getting healthy.

Pathways to Wellness - this year’s theme for May is Mental Health Month - calls attention to strategies and approaches that can help North Carolinians achieve wellness including good mental and overall health.

“Wellness involves more than an absence of disease,” says Jim Jarrard, acting director of the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (DMH/DD/SAS).  “It involves complete general, mental and social well-being.  And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being.  The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.”

One in four adults - approximately 57.7 million Americans - experiences a mental health disorder in a given year.  One in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder and one in 10 children lives with a serious mental or emotional disorder.
“Whatever our situation, everyone experiences stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings—at home, in school, at work and in life,” says Walt Caison, Best Practice and Community Innovations team leader at DMH/DD/SAS.  “Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, developing and using coping skills that build resilience, emotional awareness, along with connections to family, friends and the community.”

These steps should be accompanied by taking stock of one’s well-being through regular mental health checkups.  Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic readings of our emotional well-being.  One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical, and many doctors routinely screen for mental health, which typically includes a series of questions about lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and mental wellness.  But a checkup doesn’t necessarily require a special trip to the doctor.  There are also online screening tools you can use.  While conditions like depression are common, they are treatable.
Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life.  Using strategies that promote resiliency, strengthen mental health, and prevent mental health and substance use conditions leads to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.

Additional resources can be found online at the following sources.


April 23, 2013

Words Matter
How to combat stigma associated with mental illness

Traditionally, there has been a great deal of misunderstanding, fear, and stigma associated with mental illness.  Stigma toward people with a mental illness has a detrimental effect on their choice to seek treatment, their ability to obtain services, the type of treatment and support they receive, their success at recovery and regaining a meaningful life, along with their acceptance in the community.

These stigmas can be reinforced or reduced by media coverage, popular culture and the way we talk about mental illness. 

On March 7, 2013, the Associated Press added an entry on mental illness to its influential AP Stylebook.
According to Kathleen Carroll, AP senior vice president and executive editor, “It is the right time to address how journalists handle questions of mental illness in coverage.  This isn’t only a question of which words one uses to describe a person’s illness.  There are important journalistic questions, too.”

“When is such information relevant to a story?  Who is an authoritative source for a person’s illness, diagnosis and treatment?  These are very delicate issues and this Stylebook entry is intended to help journalists work through them thoughtfully, accurately and fairly,” said Carroll.

Recent national and local news coverage involving people with mental illness has been varied and often relied on stereotypes, negative portrayals and reinforced stigmas associated with mental disease. 

“It is important to remember that a person living with schizophrenia is a person first and that a child or youth who lives with mental health challenges is a child first,” said Susan Robinson, mental health program manager with the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (DMH/DD/SAS).  “Using language that acknowledges the individual or person is very important and can help reduce the stigmas around mental health issues.  Mental illness is just an illness affecting the body.  In these cases, that body part is the mind.”

According to the AP Stylebook:

  • Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced.
  • Mental illness is a general condition. Specific disorders are types of mental illness and should be used whenever possible: He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to court documents. She was diagnosed with anorexia, according to her parents. He was treated for depression.
  • Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.
  • Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with, suffers from or victim of. Rather, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Double-check specific symptoms and diagnoses. Avoid interpreting behavior common to many people as symptoms of mental illness. Sadness, anger, exuberance and the occasional desire to be alone are normal emotions experienced by people who have mental illness as well as those who don’t.
  • Wherever possible, rely on people with mental illness to talk about their own diagnoses.

While not specifically mentioned, the AP has adopted a person first language philosophy regarding mental illness, as recommended by many advocacy groups.  This philosophy, way of speaking, and writing, places the person first and their illness or disability second.  Person first language is designed to avoid perceived or subconscious dehumanization when discussing illnesses or people with disabilities.

For example, instead of saying, “He is a crazy person,” say “He is being treated for bipolar disorder.”

Mental health advocates have also long called for an end to the correlation between violence and mental illness.  The Associated Press supports this position.

From the AP Stylebook:

Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness.

The Associated Press (AP) was founded in 1846 and today delivers unbiased, independent news content around the world.  The AP Stylebook was initially published in 1953 and is the most used writing guide for journalists, writers and professionals.

Additional information can be found at this link.


April 17, 2013

April is Alcohol Abuse Awareness Month
Adults can help prevent underage drinking

Alcohol use causes more deaths to people less than 21 years old than all illegal drugs combined.  To bring more attention to this widespread issue, Governor Pat McCrory has declared April 2013 to be Alcohol Abuse Awareness Month.  Alcohol abuse is a national problem that affects Americans of all ages and from all communities, races and ethnic backgrounds. 
In North Carolina, underage drinkers consumed 9.7 percent of all alcohol sold during 2010, totaling $526 million in sales, and more than 34 percent of high school students report drinking alcohol at least once within the past 30 days.

“The alcoholic beverages sold in convenience and grocery stores are more dangerous than ever because they contain high alcohol content, sugar and flavorings that make them attractive to young people,” said Jim Jarrard, acting director of the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

According to the American Medical Association, two-thirds of teens ages 13-18 gain access to alcohol from their home without consent from an adult.  The Talk It Up. Lock It Up!™ campaign, administered by the DHHS North Carolina Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative, helps adults know what alcohol products are in the home and make sure that alcohol is not accessible to underage  individuals.
“Aside from the legal issues for the adult, this is an issue of child safety,” said Michael Eisen, state coordinator of the NC Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative (NC PUDI).  “We wouldn’t leave dangerous chemicals around children in our homes.  Why would we leave alcohol accessible to children or teenagers?”

Parents and adults can have a significant impact on a young person’s decision not to drink alcohol by creating clear guidelines that set a “no alcohol” rule and by enforcing that rule with zero tolerance.

Currently, alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of cancer.  It is also the leading cause of preventable death for young people, killing some 5,000 nationally each year.  Youth age 15 and younger that drink alcohol are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol and five times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life than those that wait until they are 21 or older to begin drinking alcohol.

In North Carolina, the cost of underage drinking is $1.5 billion.  This translates to a cost of $1,668 per year for each young person in the State.

The NC Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative encourages adults to talk with the young people in their lives about the dangers of alcohol and to secure alcohol in their homes so that it cannot be accessed by underage people.  More information can be found at

The NC Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative (NC PUDI) is administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

March 20, 2013
Operation Medicine Drop coincides with National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23)

Safely dispose of your expired and unwanted medications.

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise.  In North Carolina, the fastest growing cause of teen deaths is poison, primarily due to the misuse of prescription drugs.  Teens often obtain these substances from the medicine cabinets of friends or relatives.  National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23, 2013) is the perfect opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinets and safely dispose of expired, unused, or unwanted medications.

“Safely disposing of over-the-counter and prescription drugs saves lives and reduces injury for the community,” says Susan Robinson, program manager for the Prevention and Early Intervention Team at the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.  “Teens are the most at risk of death in North Carolina due to medication poisoning.”

Working together to encourage the public to safely dispose of unused and unwanted medication, Operation Medicine Drop is a partnership of Safe Kids North Carolina, the Riverkeepers of North Carolina, NC Partnerships, Alliances, Coalitions and Collaboratives, along with local law enforcement agencies.  By providing safe and secure ways for people to get rid of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, Operation Medicine Drop helps prevent accidental poisonings and drug abuse while protecting the environment.  Events are planned throughout the state during the week of March 17 – 23.  Find an event near you.

For more information about Operation Medicine Drop and Safe Kids NC, please visit their website.


February 28, 2013
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Governor Pat McCrory has declared March as Brain Injury Awareness Month in North Carolina. During 2010, there were 68,859 traumatic brain injuries reported to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Traumatic Brain Injury Program. Health officials say that number may just be the tip of the iceberg. 

According to Jim Jarrard, acting director of the DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, there are many cases each year that go undiagnosed and, as a result, never receive treatment.  Each year in the United States, 1.7 million people including 475,000 children will sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

“Brain injuries can happen any time, anywhere, and to anyone,” Jarrard said. “Brain injuries are a serious, national public health epidemic which can result in long-term or permanent disability or death.”  

Traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow, jolt or penetration to the head that disrupts the normal functions of the brain.  In North Carolina, the leading cause of TBI is falls.  Other causes include motor vehicle crashes, assaults, sports-related or occupational injuries. 

It is estimated as many as 3.8 million concussions occur in the United States each year during competitive sports and recreational activities; however, as many as 50 percent of concussions may go unreported because a concussion, or mild brain injury, does not necessarily result in loss of consciousness.

Thirty percent of sports-related brain injuries happen among youth between 5 and 19 years old.  Because the signs of brain injury are not always well recognized, youth may put themselves at risk for another injury.

Traumatic brain injury has also been the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is complicated by PTSD and suicide, presenting new challenges for members of the military and their families in North Carolina.

“An injury that happens in an instant can bring a lifetime of physical, cognitive and behavior challenges", said Janice White, Traumatic Brain Injury program coordinator with DMH/DD/SAS. “Early, equal and adequate access to care will greatly increase overall quality of life, and will enable individuals to return to their homes, school, work and communities.”

How Do You Know If It’s a Concussion?

Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully.  But for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children, and teens.  Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another concussion. Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:

  • Thinking/Remembering
    • Difficulty thinking clearly
    • Feeling slowed down
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Physical
    • Headache
    • Fuzzy or blurry vision
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness
    • Sensitivity to noise or light
    • Balance problems
    • Feeling tired, having no energy
  • Emotional/Mood
    • Irritability
    • Sadness
    • More emotional
    • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleep
    • Sleeping more than usual
    • Sleeping less than usual
    • Trouble falling asleep

If you or someone you know might have a concussion or brain injury, seek the guidance of a health care professional.
Additional information and resources are available online at:

Upcoming events across the state to commemorate Brain Injury Awareness month include:

Ride for the Rock:
March 9, 2013: A fully supported 50K and 100K bicycle ride in honor of Mark Ornitz. Ride starts from Whole Foods in Cary, NC at 9:00am.

Walk & Roll-athons:
Concord: March 23, 2013 at Frank Liske Park

  • Registration: 9 am – 10 am
  • Fun Run 9:45 am / Walk & Roll-athon: 10:45 am
  • Vendors & Activities available: 9 am – 12 noon
  • Lunch will be served at 11:30

Triad: April 13, 2013 at High Point City Lake Park

  • Registration: 8:30 am- 9:30 am
  • Walk & Roll-athon: 9:00-10:00 am
  • Vendors & Activities available: 9 am – 12 noon
  • Lunch will be served at 11:30

Asheville: April 13, 2013 at Carrier Park

  • Registration: 9 am – 10 am
  • Walk & Roll-athon: 10:30 am
  • Vendors & Activities available: 9 am – 12 noon
  • Lunch served 11:30

Raleigh: April 20, 2013 at Dorothea Dix Campus

  • Registration: 9 am – 10 am
  • Walk & Roll-athon: 10:30 am
  • Vendors & Activities available: 9 am – 12 noon
  • Lunch will be served at 11:30


February 15, 2013
DHHS Statement Regarding MeckLINK Decision

Based on the results of the just-released Mercer report, Secretary Aldona Wos has granted approval for MeckLINK to begin operations as a managed care organization under the 1915 b/c waiver on March 1, 2013.

“The independent readiness reviews provided us with a detailed look at the progress that has been made in Mecklenburg County.  We are pleased to continue moving toward full implementation of the managed care model for behavioral health services by July 2013, as mandated in state law,” said Dr. Wos.  “DHHS is committed to working with all of our partners to ensure that consumers receive services without interruption throughout the transition.”

January 24, 2013
National Drug Facts Week

January is the perfect time to activate your prevention efforts and provide youth with drug facts and resources.

January 28–February 3, 2013 is the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) – a health observance week to help teens shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse and to get factual answers through community-based events and activities.

“National Drug Facts Week is the perfect time to organize educational events and activities for local teens to start the conversation about how drugs affect the brain, body, and behavior,” said Dr. Janice Petersen, director of the Office of Prevention at the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (DMH/DD/SAS).
In observance of National Drug Facts Week, DMH/DD/SAS encourages community partners to work with local teens, schools, or community groups to organize an event or activity to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use.
To equip community partners with guidance on how to successfully plan activities during National Drug Facts Week, NIDA offers an online toolkit , complete with the booklet Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths; suggestions on how to plan activities in your community; and ideas on how to find experts to take part in local events.
For questions or additional information, contact Janice Petersen at Ready NC Connect NC