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News Release

For Immediate Release
December 6, 2011

Contact:
Michael K. Brown, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Civil Bureau
(603) 271-3650

New Hampshire's Response to the United States Department of Justice Review of the State's Mental Health System

New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney and Nicholas A. Toumpas, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, issued a formal response to the United States Department of Justice's ("USDOJ") review of New Hampshire's mental health system. After spending only 2 days in New Hampshire assessing the State's mental health system, including a one day visit to the Glencliff Home and a partial day visit to New Hampshire Hospital, USDOJ issued a letter in April 2011 alleging that the mental health system is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The State previously deferred issuing a written response to the letter in light of USDOJ's request for discussions regarding its allegations. This responsive letter follows six months of discussions between the parties.

In the letter issued today, Attorney General Delaney and Commissioner Toumpas state that New Hampshire strongly disagrees with the allegations that it is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide mental health services to people with mental illness in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. The response letter explains that in 2008, the State proactively issued a ten-year plan to continue to improve the delivery of mental health services and that New Hampshire has made significant progress implementing the plan. Attorney General Delaney and Commissioner Toumpas outlined deficiencies and inaccuracies in the USDOJ report which alleges over-institutionalization of persons with mental illness in New Hampshire. For example, with a state-wide population of 1.3 million, New Hampshire Hospital has fewer than 130 adult psychiatric beds, with a median length of stay for an adult of 7 days. The national average is 47 days. The State's response points out that many of the USDOJ's recommendations are already addressed in the State's ten-year plan and will be implemented going forward. The letter confirms that, "New Hampshire remains committed to serving people who have mental illness in a setting that maximizes individual freedom and autonomy."

In conclusion, Attorney General Delaney and Commissioner Toumpas urge USDOJ to "withdraw its erroneous findings and allow New Hampshire to continue implementation of the ten-year plan without the distraction and expense of needless litigation."

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New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658