Cuts likely to worsen mental health care

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mississippi was already widely considered as the worst state for mental health availability and support for its residents.

Now, it’s likely to get worse due to substantial cuts in the Mississippi Department of Mental Health due to state budget woes.

Already, Mississippi is facing a lawsuit filed last year by the U.S. Justice Department alleging the state relies too much on psychiatric hospitals and other institutions, as opposed to community care. Under federal law and court decisions, states are supposed to help people live at home and not in institutions.

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The state budget cuts start at the top, and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health plans to eliminate 650 positions, some through layoffs, over the next year because of state budget cuts that begin July 1.

Two local agencies directly impacted include Communicare and the North Mississippi Regional Center in Oxford. Communicare has been at level funding in recent years despite Oxford being one of the fastest growth cities in the South.

NMRC will be eliminating evaluations and therapeutic services to infants and children under 3 years old due to the budget cuts.

It’s troubling that as our community grows, increasing the need for mental health services, our resources are either frozen or dwindling. For the future, we will need to find solutions.