By The Associated Press
ELLISVILLE — The chairman of the state Board of Mental Health says if the Legislature goes ahead with present budget proposals, it could mean the loss of jobs at facilities across Mississippi.
Robert Landrum of Ellisville, the mental health board chairman, told Jones County supervisors this week that budget cuts before the Legislature would reduce mental health spending by $13.2 million.
The Laurel Leader-Call reports that Landrum told supervisors that adding to the budget woes is the Justice Department’s demand for a change in the state’s mental health system.
Landrum, who has served on the board since 1994, said changes as suggested by the Justice Department will place added strain on the budget.
“We are one of 15 states the justice department has investigated,” said Landrum. “We have known this was coming for eight or 10 years. We don’t know how much the changes will cost. It cost Georgia $55 million.
The Justice Department probably came to Mississippi with a basic plan of what all states should be doing. We are in discussions right now.”
The Justice Department recently concluded that thousands of Mississippians with disabilities or mental illness are unnecessarily institutionalized. As a result, DOJ has called for the state to move individuals with disabilities or mental illness out of institutions and into a more community-based program.
“We are guilty of taking excellent care of your family member,” Landrum said. “For years we have requested funds to increase care in the community.
“The Justice Department wants mental health to divert all money and admissions from institution to community care. They want us to reassess our current institutional persons and retrain staff.”