Many of the “Who’s Who” of the North Carolina mental health world — if there is such a thing — will be in Lexington on Tuesday night at a fundraiser for two legislators who guide state mental health policies.
The party is for Democrats Rep. Verla Insko of Chapel Hill and Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville. It will be held at the home of Ellen Holliman, director of the Durham County mental health office, and her husband, Rep. Hugh Holliman, the House majority leader.
Several local mental health directors, the president of the state psychiatric association and officers of some of the state’s largest private providers, including Triumph and Easter Seals UCP are on the invitation.
Ellen Holliman said she got notice from the state Ethics Commission that the fundraiser wouldn’t violate any rules. She said about $16,000 has been collected so far.
“The people I called were people I knew personally,” she said. “I think they really wanted to participate. No, I don’t think that’s a problem.”
The fundraiser makes some of those invited uncomfortable.
Emily Moore, a member of a state commission on mental health, said she threw away her invitation.
“I was so mad at it,” said Moore, who lives in Kinston. “It just felt like it was as conflict of interest.”
Nesbitt said the fundraiser is entirely appropriate. He said he listens to everyone who wants to talk to him about mental health topics, and the people who have watched him and Insko work know how much time they’ve put into it.
“They all want to show their appreciation,” he said. “That’s good government. That’s not some special something.”
To be fair, Insko and Nesbitt have been two of the strongest voices in Raleigh for accessible, equitable, professional mental health services. The failure for the mental health reform lies with a lot of legislators and ends at the Governor’s desk, but Nesbitt and Insko have been rock solid in their efforts.