Thanks to our passionate, dedicated advocacy volunteers, a bill which is designed to prevent unlicensed mental health facilities, was signed into law by Governor Cooper on July 2, 2021 (SB 665/HB734/SL 2021- 77)!
This effort was spearheaded by NAMI Wake County members and volunteers Yvonne Johnson and Cindy Wheeler who for the last three years have been advocates for better mental health services and accountability for facilities operating without a license after the death of Yvonne’s daughter, Michelle Pettis, in 2018 (pictured above). (see ABC11 News item here)
Among other significant items, “Michelle’s Law” substantially increases the penalty for illegally operating programs from a misdemeanor to a felony, and provides for a publicly available searchable database that will include complaints, violations, and any action taken by the Division of Health Services Regulation.
Here is a link to the entire, resulting legislation. This law becomes effective January 1, 2022.
Johnson encourages everyone to report concerns or issues they have with facilities and providers to state agencies to investigate. “I just want people to know that they’ve got to advocate for themselves,” Johnson said. “They’ve got to advocate.”
Yvonne, Cindy, and NAMI NC are grateful for the bipartisan work that was done between the NC House and Senate and want to send a heartfelt thank you to Senators Sydney Batch, Jim Perry and Representatives Erin Pare and Larry Potts, and The Senate’s Sr. Policy Advisory, Nathan Babcock for leading the way along with a host of other lawmakers for their collaborative partnership in seeing concerns and recommendations become a reality to protect North Carolina families/caregivers of loved ones living with mental health conditions.
Please contact NAMI NC’s Public Policy Director, Ashish George with any legislative or advocacy questions.