Jackson County Commissioners Sign Resolution On Mental Health Services

The Jackson County Commissioners heard a report from County Attorney Jay Coward concerning major changes in the way mental health care services are going to be handled in North Carolina. Coward reported to the commissioners that for over a century counties have had a statutory obligation to prove services for the mental incompetent. For many years those services meant institutionalization, but the past fifty years the move has been toward less institutionalization and more community based services. The last legislature made significant regulatory changes which will dictate changes to this system. Coward expressed the concerns that many of other county officials across the state had expressed that the input and governance of a county representative on the Mental Health Board would soon be a thing of the past. With Smoky Mountain Mental Health in Sylva expanding at a whirlwind rate, recently adding seven counties, and likely to add seven more counties to their service region which would likely reach from Winston Salem to Murphy. With only 21 seats available on the board many counties are concerned they will not have a place at the table even though they are still mandated to fund the Mental Health Center at the same rate as before even though their is no standard or benchmarking for the amount of required funding nor any requirement for the Mental Health Center to report to the counties as to how those funds are spent.  The County Commissioners agreed to sign the resolution to show their concerns for the restructuring of the system and the lack of board representation.