Charlotte psychologist: NC’s mental health system is broken

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The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared a recent increase in mental health crises among children and teens in the United States a national emergency.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared a recent increase in mental health crises among children and teens in the United States a national emergency.

Miami Herald file photo

Welcome to NC Voices, where leaders, readers, and experts from across North Carolina can speak on issues affecting our communities. Send submissions of 350 words or less to [email protected]

Restore mental health care

Headlines across the country are declaring a mental health crisis in our children and youth coupled with a lack of access to quality mental health care.

I am a clinical psychologist and have worked with children and adolescents in the Charlotte area for many years, and have some perspective on this issue. The main overarching problem I see is a health care system designed to put profit over patient care.

Many of us providers are exhausted fighting a system that does its best to come between us and optimal care for our customers to maximize profits. Many of us have spent countless unpaid hours on the phone with insurance companies, struggling to ensure our clients get the care they need, only to be met with denials, delays, and substandard treatment authorizations.

We are also struggling to get reimbursed for our services, spending more uncompensated hours denying claims and resubmitting claims.

Some insurance companies are worse offenders than others, so many of us narrow down our list of insurers we want to do business with or don’t accept insurance at all, so we can keep our doors open. This, of course, limits our customer base to those who can afford several hundred dollars a month out of pocket.

In addition, Medicaid is so bureaucratically complicated and managed in North Carolina that most individual providers no longer want to take on that burden, even though many of us have a strong commitment to working with the underserved in our community.

The grim reality in behavioral health care in this country is that the wealthy can generally find good mental health care, but the rest are left behind. I strongly believe that making mental health care accessible to all who need it requires a nationalized model like Medicare for All. We must profit from care and put the patient first again. We also need community mental health clinics that are accessible, non-stigmatizing, embedded in the community and staffed with competent, culturally sensitive providers. Health care should be a right and not a privilege in our country.

Kristin Rogertine-Lee, Charlotte

Dems, don’t leave rural NC behind

Regarding “To win statewide in NC, there is one thing the Democrats should change,” (opinion Jan. 17):

The writer is president of the Wake County Progressive Democrats.

Simply increasing the vote in the metropolitan areas is a losing strategy for the Democratic Party in our state. North Carolina is not Georgia, Virginia or Arizona. More than 40% of North Carolina’s population is still rural. North Carolina Democrats will have to win the hard way. It’s not “either or” with respect to rural versus metro. It’s ‘and and’.

One of the myths about rural areas is that voters are predominantly white. There is a lot of color in the countryside and many of these people have disappeared from the radar because they think no one cares about them. Democrats leave many votes on the table by ignoring rural people of color.

Just look at what happened in Robeson County. Robeson County went for Obama in 2008. In 2020 it went for Trump.

There are also many white people in rural areas who may not agree with the Democrats on social issues, but agree with them on economic issues. If the Democrats in those areas could push a message of economic populism and avoid a purity test for candidates, they might attract voters. While they may not gain those areas, they can at least stop the bleeding and not lose as much.

This doesn’t mean Democrats should ignore metropolitan areas. Unaffiliated voters are the fastest growing segment of the electorate and Democrats need to figure out how to attract them on a consistent basis. They also need to invest in voters between the ages of 18 and 30.

In the long run, the Democrats need a field operation that runs year-round every year. And as I said in the second paragraph, they should avoid purity tests, and I say that as someone who identifies as a liberal. I agree that we need to do a better job of making our base appear, but I don’t think we should leave people in rural North Carolina.

Henry Jarrett, Raleigh

Charlotte psychologist: NC’s mental health system is broken

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