Mental health issue needs answer

Published 12:30 am Friday, November 9, 2018

Clearly, Mississippi — perhaps our nation — has a mental illness crisis and we need to work together to resolve it.

Recently, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and 17th Chancery Court District Judge George Ward appeared before the Adams County Board of Supervisors to plead their case.

The county, they said, is having a huge increase in the number of mental health cases that both law enforcement and the courts must deal with on an ongoing basis.

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Ward said while the problem of mental illness is nothing new; the problem is getting worse — fast.

“It has been like an epidemic — skyrocketing numbers. Now we’re having several a week, running almost 200 a year in commitments, which is unfortunate, but it is real.”

The sheriff was lobbying for supervisors to help provide funding for another transportation deputy to help move mentally ill residents to and from the state hospital or other holding facilities.

Supervisor David Carter suggesting working with retired law enforcement officers to take on transportation needs.

That’s a good suggestion and one worth quickly pursuing.

But the problem of mental illness is not going away and the community should consider the benefits of possibly building a holding facility for mental health patients rather than holding them in jail cells when required and driving them all over the state seeking a good place to safely detain them.

The problem appears to be worsening and now is the time to address the permanent housing situation before it gets worse.