Some North Carolina Mental Health Workers Requesting Investigation Into Unequal Regulation of Minority-Owned Service Providers
Some local mental health care providers and residents in Rocky Mount, N.C., are urging an investigation into a state agency that regulates private mental health providers, the Rocky Mount Telegram reports. The Beacon Center is a state agency formed in 2008 as part of a plan to make the private mental health business a state program instead of one that counties fund. The state pays private providers through agencies such as the Beacon Center.
At the agency's first board meeting of the year, Community Healthcare Workers Union spokesperson Saladin Muhammad testified that Beacon Center has withdrawn endorsements from black-owned community support providers. As a result, agencies that provide services to mostly minority communities are closing, laying off employees and eliminating treatment for hundreds of residents in need of services, Muhammad said. "Some of the alleged deficiencies are not equally applied to providers who are not African-American or minority," Muhammad said at the meeting.
Mental health worker Inez Banks said, "What is lost with bureaucratic red tape ... is the care of the client," adding, "It's a sad time that today we are asking for equal treatment. We're not asking for special treatment, we're asking for equal treatment."
Board members agreed that the allegations of inequality are serious and held a closed session following the end of the meeting to discuss the issues (Rocky Mount Telegram, 2/20).