County needs center for mental health care

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Unfunded government mandates cause heartburn for the folks who have to figure out how to deal with the problems, without resources to go along with legislation.

But what happens when the mandate comes in the form of a moral obligation, not a government regulation?

Such is the case in Adams County in dozens of other Mississippi counties in dealing with mentally ill people.

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The problems will worsen soon as state budget cuts filter down to the Mississippi Department of Health in the form of approximately 650 jobs being cut.

The challenge is nothing new. Care for mentally ill in Mississippi has been atrocious for years.

We’ve long argued that the manner in which our state treats people with mental health issues is borderline barbaric.

Mentally ill people who need to be detained to prevent possible injury to themselves or others are treated like criminals, actually being housed at the county jail.

Some areas of the state have mental health facilities that can house patients in a safe, but non-criminal environment.

Adams County and surrounding counties have no such facility, but one is badly needed. This in spite a clear need. The county is No. 1 per capita in the number of people committed for mental illness.

Local officials are beginning the early discussions about how such a facility might be created by pooling regional resources.

We applaud the early work here and suggest this is not only a good idea but also a moral necessity to help the many people affected by mental illness.

Patients who have not been charged with crimes do not need to be placed in a padded jail cell and friends and family of those patients need assurance that their loved ones are safe from harm.