One in four adults in the US will suffer from a mental health problem, ranging from mild depression to severe schizophrenia. Many patients rely on medication alone to keep them on track. Mental health experts say it's when a patient neglects to take their medication, that problems can take place. Experts say it's a cycle; patients take their meds until they feel better, and think they're cured. Jeri Fox said her brother, Donald, suffers from a mental illness, and all she wants is for him to get the help he needs. "He's been mentally ill, saddled with several monkeys on his back since he was 16." Donald has found himself on the wrong side of the law on more than one occasion. "He was getting himself in trouble without medication,” Jeri said. Mental health providers in North Carolina are there to prescribe medication and provide support. From there, it's up to the individual. It's up to the patient to seek out more intense treatment as well. "We cannot force individuals into treatment,” said Foster Norman, Director of the Southeastern Center for Mental Health. Norman says the involuntary commitment laws in North Carolina are so strict, they can only commit individuals that are a danger to themselves or to society. "There is no cure, for the array of what we consider mental health illnesses. But there are effective treatments,” Norman said. No matter how mild, mental health illnesses cannot be cured. Support from family and friends is a form of treatment. That's why Fox wants the public to know that everyone is affected by mental illness in one way or another. “They should not turn their noses up, or think these people are strange to live next to. Cause they are the kindest heartest people that have been affected by the ruins of society." Foster Norman hopes the state will loosen the involuntary commitment laws in the future, but right now he is focused on balancing the budget and creating more mental health services at the local level.
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