TURNING POINT: 24-7 mental health treatment center celebrates grand opening

Published 3:12 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Southwest Mississippi Mental Health has one primary goal in opening its new “Turning Point” center, open 24 hours a day, seven days per week, for patients in a mental health crisis, at the Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex at 150 Jefferson Davis Blvd.

That reason is to divert those who need critical care from jail cells, emergency rooms or the state hospital and treat them instead at the facility with a “living-room” design that is manned 24-7 by a licensed care provider and security personnel, said Margo Brooks, who is the director of the Natchez complex.

“This is an auspicious occasion for this community, the region and the state,” she said, adding there are now only two such centers in the State of Mississippi. Another celebrated its grand opening Friday in Walthall County and the Natchez facility celebrated its grand opening on Monday.

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Since Southwest Mississippi Mental Health crisis stabilization center opened in the fall of 2021, the 8-bed center increased to 12 beds but, without a single point of entry, could not take in patients at all hours of the night or day whenever needed.

With the Turning Point center, referrals can be made by law enforcement, first responders, family members of the patient or community partners, Brooks said. Recently, Natchez police officers and Adams County Sheriff’s Deputies received crisis intervention training from Southwest Mississippi Mental Health, which taught them how to recognize when a mental health crisis occurs and about the Turning Point treatment center, which should be fully open and operational by March 6.

“We’re grateful that we were able to get a grant to set this up and for the staffing in this facility for four years. That should give us time to make sure that this is stable and operating efficiently. We’re going to need everyone’s support continuously to make that happen,” Brooks said.

Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Executive Director Sherlene Vince said the center would also serve patients in surrounding Claiborne, Jefferson and Wilkinson counties.

“This is an addition to and another layer to our services,” Vince said. “This triage center is the first step to getting help. Law enforcement can bring someone, the family can bring someone or people can walk themselves through the door. We will get them to where they need to be.”