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: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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