UNC Health Care is committed to caring for all patients, including those with mental and behavioral health issues. As our population grows, the demand for beds and dedicated inpatient psychiatric care continues to rise.
In Wake County, more than 65,000 people suffer from a serious mental illness. Yet, from 2012 to 2015, we were one of just three states to decrease behavioral health spending each year. More than half of our counties are without a psychiatrist, and only 35 percent of our hospitals have a psychiatric unit.
Regular hospitals and health facilities often don’t have the time or resources necessary to help treat and provide services for those with mental health, behavioral and substance abuse problems.
At UNC Health Care, we are taking steps to address this growing need. At UNC REX, we have worked to improve our triage process in the emergency department to ensure that mental health patients get the care they need as quickly as possible. We also recently expanded UNC WakeBrook, a facility in Raleigh designed to care for those with mental health, behavioral and substance abuse problems.
At the federal level, we are pleased to see policymakers making mental and behavioral health a priority as well. Late last year, the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law.
Among many other things, the Act strengthens laws mandating coverage parity for mental health care and provides funding to help increase the numbers of psychologists and psychiatrists.
The expansion of WakeBrook and the 21st Century Cures Act are steps in the right direction, but there are always opportunities to do more. We will continue working closely with public health officials and legislators to provide better care and better access to our state’s mental and behavioral health patients.