N.H. families are ready

Decades. That’s how long New Hampshire’s mental health system has needed critical attention and investment. Civilly committed patients need to be removed from the secure psychiatric unit (SPU) located within the Men’s prison in Concord. Patients who need admission to the state’s acute psychiatric facility, New Hampshire Hospital, are stuck in emergency departments for extended periods of time, waiting for a bed. Patients currently located at New Hampshire Hospital are waiting to be discharged to transitional housing, a step down on the transition back to the community. It’s a complicated problem with many moving parts.

Which is why it’s bewildering that the New Hampshire House Finance Committee has stripped away funding for the all-encompassing solution put forth in the Gov. Chris Sununu’s budget: $40 million in mental health funding, which provides for a new state forensic hospital facility, moving children out of New Hampshire Hospital to a more appropriate juvenile treatment setting, renovating the former children’s space to house more adults, and creating 40 transitional beds in communities around the state.

Critics of the governor’s plan have latched on to the complexity of the issue and are using it as a justification to put off finally resolving this state’s mental health crisis, insisting a year-long study commission is required. The fact is, the issue has been studied, the stakeholders have convened, the solution the governor has put on the table is ready, and New Hampshire’s families have been ready for 20 years. It is time to get going.