Mental health services for many in jeopardy

Mental health services could soon end for thousands of adults and children in four Mississippi Gulf Coast counties because of a lack of funding.

The Gulf Coast Mental Health Center notified the boards of supervisors in Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River and Stone counties that the grant-funded agency will be unable to fund services after Aug. 11. Officials said they will inform the state's chancery courts that the agency will be unable to accept involuntary commitments after August 1st.

In the letter to county supervisors, the clinic's board of commissioners said it will begin referring all clients to community providers. Because the clinic receives state and federal funds, the Department of Mental Health will be notified to provide assistance with placing the residents in the two supervised living group homes. The letter also said assistance will also be requested on how to discontinue the other services, including the crisis stabilization unit.

The state Department of Mental Health said late Thursday it will step in to provide “limited financial resources” to continue community mental health services that thousands of Coast residents might have lost.

Gulf Coast Mental Health Center serves Harrison, Hancock, Stone, and Pearl River counties, with outpatient clinics located in each county. The regional center also has two residential homes, a crisis stabilization unit for those who are civilly committed, and programs for people with severe mental disorders and developmental disabilities.

Gulf Coast Mental Health Center offers outpatient services to residents in the four counties, which includes a medication clinic and case management for children and adults.

In Pearl River County, the satellite office is located at 211 Hwy. 11 South, Picayune. In Hancock County, the satellite office is located at 819-B Central Ave., Bay St. Louis.

Gulf Coast Mental Health also accepts Medicare and Medicaid, which is often not the case with private providers. Walker said mental health professionals are unsure what will happen to some of their clients.

The loss of services comes at a time when the U.S. Justice Department is suing the state for failing to provide adequate community mental health services.

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