Jan 13, 2015 7:04 PM

NH1 Investigates: Mental illness care in New Hampshire


DOVER - The shooting stunned the Dover community.

Last month authorities say Katherine Lavoie was killed at Wentworth-Douglass hospital by her husband Mark, who then turned the gun on himself. In a Facebook post that day, Mark said his wife had been trying to escape the bi-polar demons that had been swirling around her head since childhood.

Ken Lambert doesn't know the Lavoie family but can relate to their anguish. In March 2008, his two children who were killed while being cared for by his sister-in-law Marci.

"That incident happened as a result of a severe mental illness and a psychotic episode," said Lambert.

In New Hampshire there are more than 300 psychiatric beds available in the state. Ten years ago, the state had 526 beds. Lambert says the decrease is hurting care for the mentally ill.

"The emergency room is really a terrible place to be if you're in a psychiatric crisis," said Lambert.

Last year the Foundation for Healthy Communities reported the average wait time for patients to meet with a prescriber is three weeks. But there are signs that care is improving.

"The state has taken some significant steps with increased funding with managed care with expanding Medicaid so that substance abuse treatment is available to the expanded Medicaid population," said NAMI NH Executive Director Ken Norton.

Last month the National Allicance on Mental Illness reported New Hampshire spent 26 million dollars for community resources and has also increased mental health spending in 2013 and 2014.

It's not known what treament Katherine Lavoie was getting. Lambert says the more help there is, the better.

"You cannot control everything. You cannot control that person 100 percent so that's kind of the scary part and the sad part that you have to balance it a little bit," said Lambert.

A balance the state continues to work on.

You can find mental health treatment options near you by clicking here.


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