Mentally ill, law officials need help

Published 12:00 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

Some of the most vulnerable Mississippians are not receiving the treatment they need. A story in today’s edition from Mississippi Today gives in detail the issue of the lack of mental health treatment for individuals in the state due mainly to budget cuts by the Mississippi legislature.

Funding for the Department of Mental Health has been slashed by $8.3 million during this legislative session, forcing department officials to eliminate 100 beds at state hospitals. That has prompted those who belong in a state hospital to receive treatment to wind up in county jails waiting for a bed to become available. Law enforcement officials have been begging and pleading with state officials to do something about the problem.

Lafayette County Sheriff Buddy East told county supervisors during budget hearings that his jail staff has also seen an increase in the number of mentally ill individuals winding up behind bars instead of in a state hospital.

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It’s a dangerous situation for law enforcement, as well as those suffering from mental illness.

It would be a shame to have horror stories from decades ago when the mental health issue was not as well known or treated begin to repeat themselves in our state.