Budget Problems and Mental Health in Mississippi

An incident this week where a patient escaped from St. Dominic Hospital before taking off his clothes in the middle of the street has started a conversation about the need for mental health treatment in the state.
Budget cuts to the department of mental health could impact how those patients receive treatment, and whether or not they get the help they need.
Budget cuts for state agencies have hit the Mississippi department of mental health hard.
We don’t know this man’s particular case, but we wanted to know if there could be a spillover of patients in smaller facilities like this.
“Depression is real. These mental health conditions are real, and psychosis is real. It’s not a laughable matter at all,” Dr. Lin Hogan/Clinical Therapist of Weems LifeCare Chemical Dependency Center said.

It was a shocking sight to see, a man walking down Woodrow Wilson with no clothes on. A man clearly troubled and in need of help.
“It takes a little bit of a stressor to send them into some type of psycho-pathological disorder or some type of aberrant or a social, antisocial behavior such as running on the street taking your clothes off,” Dr. Hogan said.

Jackson police tell us he was a mental health patient at St. Dominic Hospital.
“It makes you think about our state hospitals and the beds that they are closing and how that may impact society,” Jackson Resident, Jacobi Grant said.
The Department of Mental Health is dealing with an $8.3 million budget cut.
The majority of cuts for the Mississippi State Hospital were to the chemical dependency units, and in the medical, psychiatric unit. There were also significant cuts to the East Mississippi State Hospital, which services drug and alcohol patients.
“He could have come from Whitfield. We don’t know. Who is to say that individuals who have lost their beds at Whitfield and the state hospital, you know, they may be subject to being homeless,” Grant said.
The department is working through the issues as best they can. A spokesperson for the department tells us, the receiving services for those hospitals, that treat people for acute psychiatric care,  have not been impacted by budget cuts.
“It’s hugely important. We are all concerned about the budget cuts. We see the billeting effects it can have on individuals and their families, our communities and society in general when people don’t get treated,” Dr. Hogan said.

The state oversees 12 programs across Mississippi that offer services to people dealing with mental illness, substance abuse, and other disabilities.

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