Expert Reviewer: N.H. Falling Short on Some Areas of Mental Health Settlement

Jan 6, 2016

Credit Courtesy NH House of Representatives

New Hampshire is falling behind on several of the requirements from the landmark mental health settlement it reached in 2014, according to the latest report from an outside reviewer who’s evaluating the state’s progress.

The settlement was the result of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2012, which alleged that the state needlessly institutionalized residents with mental illness because it did not provide adequate community-based supports.

Stephen Day, a consultant who previously worked for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, has been monitoring New Hampshire’s adherence to the terms of the settlement agreement and reporting his findings in a series of biannual reports.

In the newest report, published Jan. 5, Day noted that the state has taken important steps to implement a mobile crisis program in the Concord region and to provide supportive housing to people struggling with mental illness.

At the same time, Day also identified a number of areas where the state’s fallen behind the goals set in the original agreement. He pointed to shortcomings in the state’s ability to serve people through community-based treatment teams, as required by the settlement agreement.

Day also wrote that the state hasn’t done enough to improve the transition process for people moving out of the state’s Glencliff Home — “the progress in creating capacity and effectuating transitions has been much too slow, and to date ineffectual, to meet the requirements of the [agreement],” Day wrote

Disability Rights Center Executive Director Amy Messer, who served as lead attorney in the mental health class action lawsuit, said she, too, is happy to see progress on the mobile crisis interventions and the expansion of supportive housing. Still, like Day, she agreed there’s room for improvement.

“We’re really pleased to see the continued development of what we know are effective, highly effective, and beneficial services for people with serious mental illness and that can keep people  out of unnecessary hospitalization and institutionalization,” Messer said. “But there’s still a lot to be done. We continue to look forward to working with the state to see that there’s continued and continually improved implementation of the settlement agreement.”