Eastern Carolina residents join state legislators for a town hall discussion on mental health

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -Many filled the East Carolina Heart Institute Auditorium Thursday night for an in-depth discussion on mental health.

People like Rose Bogue were given the opportunity to speak directly to a panel of state legislators, about their personal experiences with the illness.

“I moved to North Carolina, to escape an abusive household,” Bogue said.

When Bogue was 17, she moved to Eastern Carolina trying to find her peace of mind again because she says growing up in that abusive household took it from her.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley says stories like Bogue’s are why the town hall meeting was so important.

“Understanding where the rubber meets the road is where it really matters,” Kinsley said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Kinsley, along with the group of state legislators, touched on many topics surrounding mental health.

However, patient’s inability to pay for mental health services due to insurance issues they can’t help, is what Kinsley says bothers him most.

“If 30 to 40 percent of the people walking in your door as a business can’t have a way to pay, you don’t stay open,” Kinsley said. “We’ve got to close that insurance gap; the money is there, it’s just the will to do it.”

According to NCDHHS, there are more than three million people in North Carolina that have mental health issues. Bogue says she believes it should be highlighted more.

“I think this event was under publicized, I think we need to do a better job about putting this information in front of people,” Bogue said. “Not just town halls like this.”

NCDHHS and the panel of state legislators who spoke say they’re committed to advancing behavioral health and resilience.

Thursday night was the sixth town hall meeting as the panel will host another one on March 2nd for Jones, Pamlico and Craven County.