Law enforcement from Randolph to Guilford County are noticing a trend in many of the people walking into their jails — mental illness.
“I’ve seen individuals consume their own feces, coat themselves with it, throw urine, assault officers by biting, hitting,” said Major C. J. Williamson of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency rooms at places like Randolph County Hospital are also feeling the burden.
“Neither the emergency room nor the jail is any place to put someone with a mental health problem,” said Randolph County manager Richard Wells.
With only three mental health hospitals in the state, Wells says many of the mentally ill have no place nearby to go for help, so he’s asking the state to build one.
“Right now, we’re not doing too good of a job,” Wells said. “We can do better than this.”
He’s fighting to get the state to build a 200-bed mental health hospital in the county on US highway 311.
“We’re in dire need,” Wells said.
A psychiatric study last year shows that from 2001 to 2012 the number of beds for mentally ill patients was cut in half.
The study also shows that nearly 75 percent of patients had long waits before being admitted to long term care.
“The need is great,” Wells said.
A need he hopes can be met by giving long-term help to those who can’t help themselves.
“Maybe they can lead a pretty normal life, but sometimes they cannot do that on their own,” Wells said.