For residents of the area who have complaints, suggestions or comments regarding mental health care and related care in the state, now is your opportunity.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is holding a “Listening Tour” with a stop on Thursday, Feb 20 in central North Carolina.

The “town hall”–style meeting, which will be held to allow state officials to hear directly from those people receiving services and from others with input to give, will take place from noon to 2 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Green Tree Peer Recovery Center at 930 S. Broad St. in Winston-Salem. The meeting will be an opportunity for those with concerns about how those services are currently administered to speak directly to those who can do something about it.  The state officials are inviting those affected, family members and community advocates who play a role in supporting the services.

NC DHHHS Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Kody Kinsley will be there – as will other leaders from the state’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities Services and Substance Abuse Services.

The event will be hosted by Green Tree Peer Recovery Center, Cardinal Innovations and by the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County.

This is the NC DHHS’s second town hall listening session in the state. The first was held in Wilmington in January.

Over the next several months, the state’s health officials will be traveling across North Carolina for the listening tour and meetings will be held in five future locations yet to be announced.

Kinsley stated in a press release announcing the tour that the purpose of collecting input is to make the services better.

“The voices of consumers and community stakeholders are critical when it comes to assessing our progress and exploring ways that we can improve health outcomes for people who rely on our system for their well-being and recovery,” Kinsley stated in the Tuesday, Feb. 18 press release.

According to data from the NCDHHS, in 2019 alone, an estimated 113,816 adults and children received behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services through North Carolina’s public mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services system. There were an additional 8,066 people who were served through state-operated facilities.

The meetings also provide the state officials with an opportunity to discuss the status of the transition of the state’s Medicaid program over to managed care. Implementation of managed care was suspended last year after Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the budget that passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support and the governor and legislature were unable to reach an agreement on a budget before the legislature adjourned.

Kinsley said the events will provide valuable information to the state.

“Everyday, hard working, compassionate and dedicated staff show up looking for ways to make our system better, services more accessible and outcomes better for the individuals we serve in our public behavioral health … system,” Kinsley stated. “These town halls will allow us an opportunity to get out into the heart of communities and listen firsthand to the concerns, experiences and issues impacting the recipients of our services, their families and advocates.”