Years of state budget cuts, litigation, and reduction in services have mental health providers in Mississippi looking for ways to improve. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, they say more money and new legislation would enhance treatment for patients and families.
The Mental Health Task Force is comprised of professionals from state and local levels across Mississippi. The group is identifying what's working and what's not working when it comes to helping patients with mental health and addiction issues. Paula Broome is the with the Bureau of Victims' Assistance at the state Attorney General's Office. She says the goal of the task force is to find a better way to do things.
"We need more resources. More resources take more money. We need more beds in mental health facilities, in addiction treatment programs. We need more community outreach."
Dave Van is Executive Director of Region 8 Community Mental Health. Region 8 is one of 14 mental health facilities in the state. It serves 18,000 patients each year in 5 counties: Madison, Rankin, Copiah, Simpson, and Lincoln. He says the system suffers from lack of funding and strangling regulations.
"So, if I had to pick those two topics to say that those are issues that could be addressed in a short period of time, maybe not tomorrow, but in a short period of time to help providers, to help citizens in the state of Mississippi, that would be great."
The task force is looking for answers for Mississippi's mental health problem areas including legislative solutions, courts, commitment procedures, law enforcement training, treatment and prevention, and family support services.