District of Columbia:

Receiver's Plan to Return Control of Mental Health Commission Is Evolving

GAO-01-157: Published: Oct 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 2000.

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Kathryn G. Allen
(202) 512-7059


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The failure by the District of Columbia's Commission on Mental Health Services to provide community-based mental health services, as required by a 1974 court ruling, prompted a judge to appoint a receiver to carry out the court's order. Control of mental health services is scheduled to be returned to the Commission in April 2001. Although the transitional receiver is developing a plan to enhance the Commission's ability to comply with the court ruling, many challenges must be overcome. For example, the District must change its hospital-based system of care to one that considers the needs of the individual within a framework of a community-based provider responsible for all aspects of mental health and supportive services needs. Many interested mental health providers and patient care advocacy groups believe that a solid foundation is being laid for community-based mental health services. However, success will depend on the Commission's ability to improve management processes and coordinate with other agencies that provide care to the mentally ill.

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