The Mississippi Department of Mental Health’s annual block grant application is on its website and open for public comment. It will remain open for comment through September 14, 2021. You can access the PDF of the draft block grant application here. (Note that it’s a large 3.3 MB file.)
Please review the Plan and provide your comments to Lynda Stewart at email@example.com on or prior to September 14, 2021, by 5:00 p.m. Your comments do not have to be in a specific format.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six Pacific jurisdictions receive Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) funds to provide community mental health services. In Mississippi, these funds come to the Department of Mental Health. These funds are meant to help adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances.
SAMHSA expects block grant recipients to ask people what is needed in the state and then submit a plan based on that feedback about how the state will use the funds. That is what this plan is – Mississippi’s plans for how it will use these funds. The state can distribute the funds to community mental health centers and other groups to carry out the plans.
Federal Law requires that the state’s Mental Health Planning Council, a group made up of adults with serious mental illness, families of children with serious emotional disturbances and other people interested in the welfare of people affected by mental illness find out each year what the state’s greatest mental health needs are and then direct the state in making sure the plan meets those needs.
Remember, if you are a parent of a child who has mental health challenges, you are an expert on something that no one else is – your child. You know what most helps them. You may also have ideas about how to make services better that no one else has thought about. Your ideas matter and we hope you will consider commenting. You can comment on something that is in the plan or you can simply share your feedback about services that you think are needed and how you think this money should be spent.
Remember – email your comments to Lynda Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org on or prior to September 14, 2021, by 5:00 p.m. If you do not have access to email, Families as Allies is happy to assist you with emailing them. You can contact us at 601-355-0915.
Families as Allies is working on the comments we plan to submit as an organization. It is likely that our comments will speak to these areas:
- The importance of the needs assessment and the plan being driven by the Mental Health Planning Council with wide input from the public as opposed to being driven by the Department of Mental Health.
- Focusing on outcomes (did people’s lives improve as a result of services) rather than just reporting numbers served and services created.
- The crucial need to develop the infrastructure to support a system of care across systems, including different ways to pay for the services, instead of the DMH simply proposing ways to provide multiple services itself — this would include developing strategic partnerships with other agencies as opposed to simply partnering on specific initiatives.
- Making sure that groups that are underrepresented or disenfranchised are meaningfully included as part of the Planning Council.
- Avoiding overuse of beds in community-based options, including looking at ways to use therapeutic foster care outside of child welfare when children need to come out of the home rather than developing separate community facilities for them.
- How to coordinate school-based mental health services with special education.
- Ways the Mental Health Planning Council and the block grant proposal could help support Wraparound being implemented with fidelity.
- Ways that Families as Allies is supporting and can support the goals listed in the plan.
- Accurately responding to the application’s questions about the state’s Olmstead planning, including that the state does not have an Olmstead plan, that the state was sued and found in violation of the Olmstead ruling and that the state has shared multiple times in court that it does not believe it has ever been in violation of Olmstead and it asserts that Olmstead compliance should be judged solely on whether or not the state has the capacity and funding for services, not if people receive and benefit from services.
Please feel free to give us feedback about the direction and accuracy of the areas we are considering for comment. You can contact Joy Hogge at email@example.com or 601-355-0915.