NAMI North Carolina’s executive director, Jack Register, and interim chair of the NAMI NC Consumer Council, Lucy Wilmer, were featured in this article by reporter Billy Ball in the Indy Week’s August 26, 2015 edition.
“This is how Lucy Wilmer wants to remember Bill: the tousled brown hair, the wry grin, the sense that, before he even finishes this joke, he has two more waiting.
“People tell me the world’s worse off because Bill is gone,” Wilmer says. “It sounds like a platitude, but it isn’t. He was just super funny and outgoing, one of the friendliest, quirkiest, most interesting human beings.”
Bill, her 38-year-old boyfriend, killed himself in 2008 in Beaufort County, four years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Like many with that condition, Bill suffered crippling mood swings.
“When he was in a manic state, he didn’t feel the need to take any medicine,” Wilmer says. “He was going to start 17 businesses. But when the depression started, it was very difficult to get him to do anything, to take his medicine, to go to his doctor’s appointments.”
It was a struggle until the day he killed himself. But earlier treatment may have made the difference, says Wilmer, now the chairwoman of the consumer council for the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an advisory panel of volunteers who have experienced the ramifications of mental illness. And North Carolina’s reformed public mental health system, which is a little more than a decade old, can offer the kind of creative outreach needed for people like Bill, many of whom begin to show symptoms in their 20s.
That’s why the architects of the state’s push for regional, public mental health authorities say North Carolina’s experiment, which has come under legislative attack, must be preserved. The system, designed to simplify, economize and improve the state’s confusing network of providers, relies on nine regional groups called local management entities, or LMEs, “one-stop shops” charged with dispensing Medicaid dollars for mental health treatment.”
Click here to read the full article.
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