Need for mental health center is real

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2000

It may be too little, too late. The Mississippi Department of Mental Health has finally put Adams County on the list for construction of a mental health crisis facility.

In an announcement this week, officials said Adams County will join eight others on the list of second-round choices for these crisis intervention centers.

Funding for the seven original centers — approved by the 1999 Legislature — is in place and those centers should be completed in the next 12 months or so.

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But for Adams County — where law enforcement and mental health officials have been raising red flags for years — a center may be three years away.

And we may not be able to wait that long.

Within the last four years, law enforcement officials have attributed at least one murder and one suicide to the the problems caused by the lack of a mental health crisis center.

In both cases, the men were awaiting transfer to the state mental facility at Whitfield, and those transferred had been delayed due to overcrowding at Whitfield.

The demand for mental health facilities is increasing at a rapid pace, and as our state facility continues to struggle with overcrowding it is up to officials to find alternatives for those people who pose a threat to themselves … or to others.

These regional crisis centers are not luxuries … they are necessities. And it’s simply ridiculous that we should have to wait another two or three years to have one in Adams County.

While we wait for legislative approval and funding, law enforcement officials will be holding their breath in fear of another violent incident.

The need is real — here and in other counties — and it will only be compounded in three years.