On January 24, the Mississippi State Senate and House Public Health and Welfare committees held a joint hearing to discuss why it’s hard for people with mental illnesses to get care quickly when they have severe symptoms that might pose a danger to them or someone else.
When someone has mental illness symptoms that make them dangerous to themselves or someone else, a judge can civilly commit them to mental health care. We have learned from recent news coverage that every year, hundreds of Mississippians awaiting civil commitment or care after a civil commitment stay in jail even though they have no charges. At least fifteen of these people have died, most of them by suicide.
Two chancery clerks spoke at the hearing and described plans for a locally run crisis center in Lamar County. Ms. Wendy Bailey, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, shared a PowerPoint overview of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and its efforts to address civil commitment delays and waits in jail. She also distributed copies of Mississippi laws about civil commitment.
Bill Rosamond, coordinator of mental health accessibility, described a pilot project to coordinate services and supports through a regional holding center and ensure that no one going through the civil commitment process spends time in jail.
These are two news articles about the hearing:
- Mississippi lawmakers consider mental healthcare challenges By Jeremy Pittari – January 29, 2024, Magnolia Tribune
- ‘Depriving people of their liberty’: Lawmakers question jail without criminal charges by Isabelle Taft – January 25, 2024, Mississippi Today
We appreciate Senator Hob Bryan and Representative Sam Creekmore holding this hearing.
If you have feedback or questions for the people involved in the hearings, here is their contact information: