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NAMI Georgia Issues Statement on Lawsuit Talks

Published in the August 2010 issue of the NAMI Augusta Azalea newsletter

By Gareth Fenley

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on July 1, 2010, that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) broke off months of negotiations with the State of Georgia in the DOJ's federal lawsuit to force improvements in Georgia's public mental health system.

The DOJ is asking a judge to take immediate action to address problems that have been found with the mental health system operated by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD).

NAMI Georgia (the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) has filed as an "amici" (friend of the court) with the DOJ in this lawsuit.

While NAMI Augusta, a local affiliate, is not directly a party to the lawsuit, we and other NAMI affiliates around the state have cooperated in forwarding information relevant to the ongoing action. We wish to share with you the following statement.

Statement by Nora Lott Haynes, Public Policy Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness - Georgia, July 1, 2010

As consumers and family members, we are disappointed that the DOJ vs GA settlement has not reached agreement. We continue to be hopeful that the Governor of the Great State of Georgia and the new DBHDD leadership will address the crisis with haste and will reach an agreement with DOJ. The suffering must stop--our hospitals are unsafe, our emergency departments, jails, prisons and homeless population are overcrowded due to a lack of adequate mental health services.

The mental health crisis cannot be fixed without addressing the lack of community based services and ensuring accountability.

We regret that Georgia rejected a fair and reasonable settlement that would have finally resolved the deep and tragic problems in Georgia's mental health system.

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