Twelve health care organizations sent a joint letter to state leaders this week, sounding an alarm about behavioral health needs. The move was spurred by a rise in emergency room visits.

The letter is addressed to Governor Roy Cooper, Senator Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore. And it comes from organizations like the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA), the NC Medical Society, NC Nurses Association and more.

It says the state of the behavioral health system in North Carolina is a public health crisis, with providers not able to meet “escalating needs for treatment.”

Cody Hand is with NCHA and he says more emphasis needs to be placed on prevention.

“The time is now to address the structural issues in our behavioral health system that are leaving our most vulnerable citizens, our children, no care other than an emergency room to deal with behavioral health issues that could be addressed early in the process in the community without having to go to the hospital,” he says.  

The letter asks for bipartisan collaboration and a meeting where the best solutions can be discussed. It also highlights a desire to use federal COVID-19 relief funding to address the problem.   

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