On December 19, 2013, the Department, along with a coalition of private plaintiff organizations, entered into a comprehensive Settlement Agreement with the State of New Hampshire that will significantly expand and enhance mental health service capacity in integrated community settings over the next six years. The Agreement is a full consent decree entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire as a Court order on February 12, 2014. The Agreement also provides for regular compliance reviews and public reporting by an independent monitor.
The Agreement will enable a class of thousands of adults with serious mental illness to receive expanded and enhanced services in the community, which will foster their independence and enable them to participate more fully in community life. It will significantly reduce visits to hospital emergency rooms and will avoid unnecessary institutionalization at State mental health facilities, including New Hampshire Hospital (the State's only psychiatric hospital) and the Glencliff Home (a State-owned and –operated nursing facility for people with mental illness).
The Agreement requires the State, for the first time, to create mobile crisis teams in the most populated areas of the State and to create crisis apartments to help support team efforts at avoiding hospitalization or institutionalization. The Agreement also requires the State to make enhanced Assertive Community Treatment ("ACT") team services available statewide, such that the mental health system can provide ACT to at least 1,500 people at any given time. The Agreement requires the State to provide scattered-site, permanent, supported housing to hundreds of additional people throughout the state; the State will also create special residential community settings to address the needs of persons with complex health care issues who have had difficulty accessing sufficient community services in the past. The State will also deliver additional and enhanced supported employment services, consistent with the Dartmouth evidence-based model, to hundreds of new recipients throughout the state.
The Settlement Agreement resolves litigation that had been contested for well over a year. Private Plaintiffs filed the initial complaint in February 2012, and on April 4, 2012, the Court granted the Department's motion to intervene. On April 7, 2011, the United States had issued a Findings Letter concluding that the State of New Hampshire was failing to provide services to individuals with mental illness in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs in violation of the ADA, which led to the needless and prolonged institutionalization of individuals with disabilities and placed individuals with disabilities at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. On September 17, 2013, after months of discovery and a hearing with oral argument, the Court certified a class of Plaintiffs consistent with parameters supported by Plaintiffs and the United States. Shortly thereafter, settlement talks resumed which produced the instant Agreement.
New Hampshire Mental Health System