Mississippi has struggled to provide adequate mental health resources for nearly a decade – The Daily Mississippian

The Department of Justice raised awareness in Mississippi State about critical issues in its services for people with mental illness in 2011. Nearly a decade later, Mississippi is still struggling to meet its goals.

Artwork by Micah Crick

The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice has reported that Mississippi is not meeting obligations detailed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Within 35 pages letter addressed to the Governor at the time. Haley Barbour, the DOJ chose the Mississippi system to support people with mental illnesses.

The letter pointed to newly constructed institutional care buildings that belong in the 20th century, a lack of community programs, and a failure to provide integrated community settings for eligible institutionalized people. Dec. 22 will mark 10 years since Mississippi was made aware of these issues — and the state is still struggling to fix them.

After five years of negotiations between the DOJ and the State of Mississippi, Mississippi was sued by the DOJ in 2016. The department claimed the state violated federal law for the same reasons detailed in their 2011 letter. In 2019, Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in favor of the DOJ, finding that Mississippi did indeed violate the ADA.

In September of that year, Reeves issued a remedial order that, among other things, gave the state of Mississippi 120 days to write an implementation plan and until March 6 to submit a final plan. However, Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office, represented by Phelps Dunbar LLC, filed a motion asking Reeves to stay parts of his order — including the part ordering Mississippi to come up with the implementation plan — until to have the order appealed.

“As Mississippi undertakes careful and thorough efforts to meet its obligations under the order, it is appropriate to partially suspend certain portions of the order … which require immediate action, substantial new funding and modification. fundamental to the Mississippi mental health system,” reads the request.

Many fear that the request and the appeal will cause significant delays in Mississippi to correct the failures in the state’s mental health system that have been identified.

However, Mississippi Department of Mental Health Executive Director Wendy Bailey plans to comply with Judge Carlton’s order anyway.

“I think we’re on track to make great strides even in the next 24 months in this area,” Bailey said. “We will comply with the judge’s order and do whatever we need to do as a state agency.”

Although Mississippi is set to take more than a decade to formally take action to address issues reported by the DOJ in 2011, the state has taken steps to improve community mental health resources.

For adults, the state offers behavioral health programs at five Mississippi state hospitals.

“The programs provide inpatient services to adults with serious mental illnesses and addictions,” according to the Department of Mental Health website.

As for community-based services, which are available depending on your zip code, the Department of Mental Health offers more than a dozen, including community support services, supported residences, reception, emergency crisis services and crisis stabilization services.

State mental health services available in Lafayette County

Lafayette County residents seeking adult mental health services will be asked to choose from six different options. The first and only option in the county is the Lafayette County Detention Center, which, as jail administrator Johnny McDonald shared, serves as a central location for adults who need mental health services. and who have nowhere to go.

“If you’re having a mental health crisis, your family can go to chancery court and get what they call a mental health writ against you,” he said. “Then they will bring you here (the detention center). Communicare will see you, you will see a series of mental health doctors, and then you will be appointed a lawyer, who will talk with them about their rights and what happens next.

Communicare is the community mental health center serving Lafayette County as well as other northern Mississippi counties. Communicare also provides mental health services to LCDC inmates.

How long people who have experienced or are experiencing a mental health crisis stay in the Lafayette County Detention Center depends on a number of things, such as bed space in public facilities. When it is determined that the person requires hospital treatment, they will be transferred to a regional crisis stabilization center, the closest being in Batesville, Grenada and Tupelo.

Other than LCDS and Communicare, the Department of Mental Health does not list any other resources for adults in need of mental health services in the county. The remaining options include Behavioral Health Services of Mississippi in Batesville, Heavenly Angels Supervised Living Home in West Point, and Marion Counseling in Jackson.

There are more options available for children and youth, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those in need of addiction treatment services and rehabilitation services.

Right now, it’s unclear where Mississippi’s mental health saga will go — if Bailey complies with Carlton’s order despite the appeal, we should see a draft of Mississippi’s implementation plan as soon as possible. on January 5, 2022.

Comments are closed.