Advocacy group reaches out to lawmakers on behalf of mentally il - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Advocacy group reaches out to lawmakers on behalf of mentally ill inmates

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

An organization that works on the behalf of the mentally ill is reaching out to the Mississippi State Legislature in hopes of increasing funding for agencies which provide their care.

 According to NAMI Mississippi an estimated 780,000 people in the state or 26.2% of the population have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
Among those numbers are inmates being held in jails and prisons in each of Mississippi's 82 counties.

"I can sympathize with anyone with mental illness," said a woman who we will call "Libby".

The 36 year old is bi-polar and suffers from Schizoid Effective Disorder. She takes five medications daily to stay on course and sees her psychiatrist regularly.
 
The Rankin County woman admits to being arrested previously when off her meds, self medicating with alcohol. She understands the need for more funding for beds at the State Hospital.

"You have to have the trust between your doctor and yourself to actually get the help you need and the patient has to stay on their medications every single day, said Libby. "You have to have trust because if you don't you're gonna wind up in jail or you're gonna wind up back in the hospital." 

"People with mental illness should not be in jail. That's not the place for them," said National Alliance on Mental Illness Mississippi Executive Director Tameka Smith.

Smith often receives calls from families concerned about inmates who are not getting medical attention because of the long wait for treatment.
 
"They disconnect from their family members and the people are out living homeless or they end up in jail and a majority of them go back to jail because they know they can get a free meal and they have a place to live," said Smith.

NAMI is currently working on what's called the White Papers. It is information gathered from families, agencies and those in the mental health profession to present to lawmakers in January.

Inmates are treated in Forensic Services at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. According to Mississippi Department of Mental Health Communications Director Adam Moore, there are currently 129 pending court ordered cases for evaluation.

In 2015, Forensics Services admitted 68 individuals with an average wait for admission of 112 days.  Average length of stay was 250 days.

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