Governor Pat McCrory wants mental health care improvement in North Carolina

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Pat McCrory announces new task force drawing from the three branches of government

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has announced a new initiative that's good news for anyone who has struggled to find mental health care for a loved one.

With the stroke of his pen, McCrory established the North Carolina Mental Health and Substance Use Task Force.

The panel will draw its members from the three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial - plus "key stakeholders."

McCrory says the group will draw up recommendations to improve the lives of citizens with mental illness and substance use disorders.

"Our goal is to improve collaboration between health care, justice and safety professionals using existing resources," McCrory said. "If we improve these linkages, we offer the best hand up to those in need - especially our young people."

The task force will be co-chaired by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina Mark Martin and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos, M.D. Senator Tamara Barringer and Representative Susan Martin will also serve on the task force.

McCrory said he hopes bringing the three branches of government together will be an effective way to tackle mental health and substance abuse issues in the state.

"On a daily basis, courtrooms across our state serve those who struggle with mental health and substance use issues," Chief Justice Martin said. "My hope is that this task force will, among other things, examine the role and effectiveness of mental health and other specialty courts currently operating in North Carolina."

The task force will submit findings and strategic recommendations to McCrory by May 1, 2016.

The governor said one goal is to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help before their situation becomes a crisis - and they end up in an emergency department or jail.

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