Local jails struggling to deal with increased number of mentally - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Local jails struggling to deal with increased number of mentally ill patients

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did. Source: WLBT
RANKIN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Mississippi's budget cuts have left question marks about the availability of services around the state.

It’s also had a domino effect for jails around the state. Rankin County says they're housing more mentally ill inmates than ever before.

"Jail is not a place, I don't believe, these people need to be in," noted Rankin County Jail Administrator Barry Vaughn. "But it's the last stop for them if nobody else is able to help them or knows how to help them."

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the need didn't disappear with the budget cuts, but who was shouldering the load did.

"One big issue that you have is that some of the beds out here at Whitfield, they may keep them 30 days and the right back out on the street," explained Sheriff Bailey. "The legislature needs to step it up and find the money to provide these people with help that they need."

Rankin County works closely with their community health center because they say they aren't equipped otherwise.

"We can get them stable here in the jail, provide them with what they need," noted Rankin County Jail Medical Site Administrator Ceola Moore. "We noticed the behavior change."

The jail calls on Region 8 to do mental evaluations and suggest proper medication.

"Once they are released from this type of atmosphere, go back into the community, who is going to follow up on them?" asked Moore. "We have a problem."

There's now a statewide mental health task force that's looking at possible solutions.

"And now it's on the forefront," explained Tameka Tobias, Executive Director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Mississippi. "We're having these conversations now and the fact that we're having these conversations, people are being held accountable. And we're stepping up to the plate to do something to make things better."

Advocates say the way Rankin County is working with the community health center is critical.

"We are encouraging community partners to work together because at the end of the day just like I said before, you cannot operate in a silo," said Tobias.

The task force and the Department of Mental Health are now both looking at ways to not just add available beds at the state's institutions, but rather look at options for more community based care.

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