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AG Hood announces Mississippi Mental Health Task Force

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the establishment of the Mississippi Mental Health Task Force, which was created to bring many voices to the table to create recommendations for improving services for the mentally ill in the state.

Posted: Oct 6, 2017 4:02 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (Press Release) — Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the establishment of the Mississippi Mental Health Task Force, which was created to bring many voices to the table to create recommendations for improving services for the mentally ill in the state.

The task force, which had its first meeting this week, will focus on voluntary and involuntary commitment procedures, uniform processing in the courts, crisis intervention training for law enforcement and their relationship with mental health centers, access to resources for family support, drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment, among other issues.

“We must make it easier on parents and loved ones to help their family member get the treatment they need,” said General Hood. “My goal is to make the commitment process easier and more uniformed, whether voluntary or involuntary. Right now, each county plays by their own rules, and we need to make sure that, whether you’re someone in DeSoto County or Hancock County, the forms, filing fees, and processes of being committed are the same across the state.”

Thirty-one organizations and offices are represented on the task force, including but not limited to mental health professionals, local and statewide elected officials, law enforcement officers, chancery judges, medical associations, and community service organizations.

“The commitment and passion of the resource professionals from the public and private sectors at our first meeting is compelling,” said 10th Chancery Court District Judge Ronald Doleac. “Working together, we can surely partner to alleviate cost concerns and bring more uniformity to our court commitment processes for evaluation, care, and treatment for our citizens with mental health and drug related issues.”

“There are a lot of hurting families who find it almost impossible to navigate the extremely complex system of mental health in our state,” said Dave Van, Executive Director of Region 8 Mental Health. “There are discrepancies across the state in how patients get to the point of receiving help, and we want to streamline that process. No one disagrees on where the state of mental health services needs to go, but having this group of people come together to find the best way to get there will be extremely beneficial to so many families across Mississippi.”

“The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Mississippi (NAMI MS) is a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for Mississippians affected by mental illness,” said NAMI MS Executive Director Tameka Tobias. “Through education, support, and advocacy, we strive to eliminate the pervasive stigma of mental illnesses, effect positive changes in the mental health system, and increase the public and professional understanding of mental illnesses. To this end, NAMI MS advocates for policies that increase access to appropriate treatment and supports that enable children and adults to achieve their hopes and dreams. We look forward to working alongside our fellow colleagues, elected officials and community members to implement much needed change throughout Mississippi.”

The mental health task force will also review current legislation as well as needs for additional legislation. The discussions in this week’s meeting included mandating law enforcement to be trained in crisis intervention to know how to deal with a person who is mentally ill, creating outpatient commitment orders, authorizing chancery judges to issue writs for law enforcement to hold those arrested who are suffering a mental illness for 72 hours to seek evaluation rather than charging them with a crime, creating a centralized referral network of contact information for service providers, prioritizing mental health treatment within jails and detention centers and the Medicaid benefits that cover them while in jail, and developing protocols to divert persons that are experiencing a mental health crisis from the criminal justice system.

“I appreciate the invitation to be a part of this task force,” said Mississippi Department of Mental Health Director of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services Melody Winston. “At DMH, we believe that increasing access to treatment, implementing evidence-based prevention strategies and providing recovery support services as related to substance use disorders should be a statewide effort. A convergence of state resources supporting these efforts is necessary to address this growing problem in our state.”

“I think that those of us who treat people with serious mental illnesses share a common belief with our friends in law enforcement,” said Mississippi State Hospital forensic psychiatrist Dr. Tom Recore. “We believe that people with such illnesses should not be housed in detention centers. They should be treated in mental health facilities.  This task force is doing the important work of bringing together the mental health and criminal justice systems in our state so that we can try to figure out how to make this happen.”

“This is a great step forward in addressing the issue we currently have with people who are mentally ill ending up in our jails instead of where they need to be to get help,” said Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp. “Thankfully, my deputies are prepared for situations involving individuals with mental illness because of our crisis intervention training and our relationship with community mental health centers. I strongly urge all law enforcement to get on board with that training because it’s the best thing going to help stabilize mentally ill patients in the field, and that’s a goal I have for this task force.”

“I’ve been working with mental health professionals and law enforcement for 25 years as a prosecutor,” said General Hood. “This is the first meeting where I’ve seen the two come together on the same page. That is encouraging, and that’s the goal of this task force: to bring all stakeholders to the table to ensure that everyone in our state battling a mental illness or addiction will have access to the support and services they need to begin their journey to recovery. Thank you to the many members of this task force who are caring for truly the least among us—those with a mental illness.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 352891

Reported Deaths: 7597
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24704451
DeSoto23619283
Harrison21395335
Jackson15984255
Rankin15957294
Madison11224227
Lee10952180
Jones9316171
Forrest9136163
Lauderdale8211244
Lamar736590
Lowndes7253152
Lafayette6658125
Washington5681140
Pearl River5396155
Oktibbeha506598
Bolivar5022134
Warren4828128
Panola4823112
Marshall4759106
Pontotoc455773
Neshoba4487181
Hancock444488
Union441479
Monroe4390138
Lincoln4247116
Pike3771114
Leflore3696125
Alcorn362474
Tate356188
Sunflower351794
Adams350690
Scott349177
Yazoo344877
Copiah333569
Simpson329191
Itawamba318581
Tippah316569
Coahoma316385
Covington305584
Prentiss304163
Leake291976
Marion291882
George285851
Wayne282345
Grenada272488
Newton269264
Tishomingo241670
Stone240038
Winston238484
Jasper236248
Attala229974
Chickasaw222760
Clay204654
Holmes204374
Clarke190480
Tallahatchie185842
Smith184936
Calhoun184632
Yalobusha174241
Walthall151249
Lawrence146426
Greene144735
Amite140144
Noxubee137635
Perry137038
Montgomery134644
Carroll127531
Webster125132
Jefferson Davis121334
Tunica116627
Benton108425
Claiborne106131
Kemper105029
Humphreys102533
Franklin88724
Quitman86819
Choctaw83619
Wilkinson79632
Jefferson72328
Sharkey52018
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 595816

Reported Deaths: 11561
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson865251591
Mobile50436872
Madison37905534
Shelby27652260
Tuscaloosa27422465
Montgomery26428628
Baldwin26175329
Lee17414181
Calhoun15549334
Morgan15265291
Etowah15106372
Marshall13248236
Houston12297294
Elmore11006220
St. Clair10903252
Limestone10867158
Cullman10643206
Lauderdale10374255
DeKalb9603193
Talladega9032188
Walker7873288
Autauga7635114
Blount7463140
Jackson7450117
Colbert6780142
Coffee6515132
Dale5803117
Covington4864125
Russell483543
Chilton4828117
Franklin465681
Tallapoosa4591156
Escambia457583
Chambers4007125
Dallas3756164
Clarke374663
Marion3490107
Pike336979
Lawrence3280100
Winston301973
Bibb293766
Geneva293083
Marengo263867
Barbour254361
Pickens247962
Butler243672
Hale236979
Fayette228565
Henry218845
Monroe206941
Randolph203844
Cherokee201748
Washington189439
Macon172252
Crenshaw171758
Clay167659
Cleburne161845
Lamar152638
Lowndes146555
Wilcox132731
Bullock126542
Conecuh123032
Coosa119729
Perry111228
Sumter110933
Greene99937
Choctaw64525
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