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Mississippi asserts it is meeting mental health mandates

MGN Online

Mississippi says it is fulfilling requirements to provide community-based mental health services.

Posted: May 3, 2021 1:51 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Mental Health says it is fulfilling requirements to provide community-based services, and it is asking a federal judge not to order the state to make changes in its mental health system.

The federal government issued a letter in 2011 saying Mississippi had done too little to provide mental health services outside mental hospitals. The Justice Department sued the state in 2016. After a 2019 trial, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled Mississippi “operates a system that unlawfully discriminates against persons with serious mental illness.”

Attorneys for the Department of Mental Health wrote in court papers filed Friday that “even if the Court remains of its prior view on liability based on the evidence at trial, the Court still should order no relief because Mississippi is now in substantial compliance with Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act ... and has addressed or will imminently address the violations the Court believed to exist.”

The Justice Department is supposed to file papers later this month responding to what the state said Friday.

Federal attorneys said during the trial that mentally ill people were being held in jails because crisis teams didn’t respond. They said people had been forced to live far from their families because mental health services weren’t available in their hometowns. They also said people made repeat trips to Mississippi mental hospitals because there was no effective planning for them to make a transition to community services, and the most intensive kinds of services weren’t being made available.

In early 2020, the judge named an expert with 40 years' experience as a special master to oversee discussions of improving Mississippi's system.

In the papers filed Friday, the department said Mississippi had eight Program of Assertive Community Treatment teams as of Dec. 31, 2018, but now has 10. It said the teams facilitate "community living, psychological rehabilitation and recovery for people who have the most severe and persistent mental illnesses ... and have not benefitted from traditional outpatient services.”

The department said Mississippi had no Intensive Community Outreach and Recovery Teams at the end of 2018 but is developing 16 teams. It described those as "intensive, community-based rehabilitation and outreach service for adults with a severe and persistent mental illness.”

The department said Mississippi “will fund and sustain 35 full time” of intensive community support specialists, although workforce turnover could cause the number to fluctuate.

The department also said Mississippi has and will sustain at least one Mobile Crisis Team in each of the 13 mental health regions.

“Mississippi will maintain its regional crisis hotlines that are staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week, with staff who assess a crisis by phone, assist with immediate stabilization efforts, and help a caller identify and connect with ongoing local services,” the department said.

According to the court filing, Mississippi has crisis residential services available for every region except Region 11, which is made up of Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties. The department said it will make money available for residential services for up to 12 people at a time in Region 11.

Joy Hogge is executive director of Families as Allies, a mental health advocacy group in Mississippi. She told The Associated Press on Monday that after reading the state's latest court filing that she still has questions about people's access to mental health services outside of mental hospitals.

“They can say on paper that more services exist, but whether or not people are getting those services or whether or not they benefit from them ... we don’t know,” Hogge said. “If that data exists, I haven’t seen it.”

Hogge also said the state needs a formal structure between the Department of Mental Health and the Division of Medicaid because many mental health services are paid by Medicaid. She said current coordination between the two programs is "dependent on the goodwill of the people working there,” but that could change later.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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