Hoban compares N.C. mental health system to other states

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

WUNC’s Rose Hoban took advantage of an AHCJ fellowship to create far-reaching series on what state and local governments are doing to accommodate and treat residents with mental health disorders, particularly in terms of housing.

Rose Hoban

Rose Hoban

I recommend you start with Hoban’s honest and personal explanation of how the series came about. It was facilitated by an AHCJ Media Fellowship on Health Performance, supported by the Commonwealth Fund, but the initial impetus came from Hoban’s 12 years of nursing experience and firsthand experiences with treatment models for the mentally ill.

Her original plan for the fellowship, which called for a broad, systemic analysis, was to compare North Carolina’s health system to that of a an equivalent state elsewhere in the country. As she soon found, it’s not that simple.

… as I started digging, I learned that’s just not possible. States have so many varied ways of organizing mental health care delivery – Local-control or state-control? Combine with substance abuse services and developmental disabilities or not? Pull in lots of federal dollars or depend on state dollars? Rely on institutions or more on community-based services?

On top of that, states have many ways of paying for mental health services – Medicaid? State dollars? County dollars? Private dollars? Public-private-partnerships? Tax dollars? Insurance dollars? Fees?

With the insight provided by that false start, Hoban recalibrated by choosing to compare specific components of the North Carolina system with those of other relevant states. The results, along with some relevant past work and original blog posts, are available on Hoban’s NC Voices: Mental Health Disorder blog.

The centerpiece, a five-part radio series focusing on housing issues for those with mental health problems, aired on North Carolina Public Radio. The links below will take you to stories, transcripts and blog posts.

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