Region XV Mental Health chief says process under way to incorporate Adams County into agency

Published 2:27 pm Friday, July 7, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Unit in Natchez is closed and is expected to reopen on Monday, July 17, said Robert Barton, director of the newly named River Ridge Behavioral Health agency.

Barton is director of Region XV Mental Health/Mental Retardation Commission, which has been operating as Warren Yazoo Behavioral Health.

The new name, River Ridge Behavioral Health, reflects the fact that Claiborne, Jefferson, Adams and Wilkinson counties have joined Region XV.

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Adams County and the three others had been part of mental health Region 11 in the state. However, as part of a restructuring of the state’s mental health organization in an effort to provide better services in a system that was failing, Region 11 has been dissolved and the counties absorbed into Regions that were functioning effectively.

In February 2022, Bill Rosamond, coordinator of mental health accessibility for the state, provided the Adams County Board of Supervisors a damning report of inadequacies found in mental health services offered in the county and the entirety of Region 11. He said Region 11 was riddled with debt, delinquent collections and a myriad of management issues.

As part of the restructuring, Barton said the Crisis Stabilization Unit, which opened October 2021 at 150 Jefferson Davis Blvd., and other facilities are being spruced up, undergoing maintenance and safety and security upgrades and staff training.

“We will be working with chancery clerks, sheriffs, police departments and hospital in the four new counties to make referrals to stabilize people with mental illness in crisis in an effort to avoid unnecessary placements to the state hospital and unnecessary placements in jails,” Barton said.

“We will be providing the same services as before, but it will take us a while to access the situation there,” he said. “We are interviewing current employees and hope to offer jobs to as many of those as we can.”