State budget cuts have impacted Department of Mental Health

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Thursday, a patient escaped from St. Dominic’s hospital, before taking off his gown, in the middle of the street.

That incident has started a conversation about the need for mental health treatment in the state.

Budget cuts to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health could impact how those patients receive treatment and whether or not they get the help they need.

Those cuts have hit the Mississippi Department of Mental Health significantly.

While we don’t know this unknown man’s specific case, WJTV asked if there could be a spillover of patients to smaller facilities like this.

“Depression is real. These mental health conditions are real, psychosis is real. It’s not a laughable matter at all,” said Dr. Lin Hogan, a Clinical Therapist with the Weems LifeCare Chemical Dependency Center.

It was a shocking sight to see, a man walking down Woodrow Wilson Avenue 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 psychopathological disorder or some type of aberrant or a social, antisocial behavior such as running on the street taking your clothes off,” said Dr. Hogan,

The Jackson Police Department says he was a mental health patient at St. Dominic’s Hospital.

But could this incident be telling sign of an even bigger problem?

“It makes you think about our state hospitals and the beds that they are closing and how that may impact society,” said Jacobi Grant, a Jackson resident.

The Department of Mental Health is dealing with an $8,300,000 budget cut for the fiscal year.

The majority of cuts for the Mississippi State Hospital were to the chemical dependency units, and in the medical psychiatric unit.

There were also big 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,” said Grant.

But, the department is working through the issues as best they can.

A spokesperson for the department told WJTV, 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 an individuals and their families, our communities and society in general when people don’t get treated,” said Dr. Hogan.

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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