The US Justice Department is investigating mental health care in Missippi according to an article in the Hattiesburg American, Mental health system probed.
“They don’t think our state has made a sufficient effort to move into community-based services,” said [Region 8 Excutive Director Dave] Van, who has met with Justice Department officials. “They say we’re institutionally heavy.”
This is following a trend away from acute services and towards a more community based model of mental health care. Justice Department officials also feel that Missippi lacks affordable housing for people in the mental health system.
This US Justice Department investigation in Missippi follows other recent investigations in Virginia and Georgia.
In February, federal officials concluded Virginia violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by needlessly institutionalizing those with developmental disabilities. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed $30 million more in spending for community-based treatment.
Although the federal investigation in Virginia focused on the institutionalization of people with developmental difficulties there is also a danger that, given budget cuts, the mental health system there will return to the condition it was in before an earlier investigation in the 1990s.
In 2010, the Justice Department reached a settlement requiring the state of Georgia to come up with $77 million more for treatment for fiscal 2012 alone.
A number of deaths reported in institutions in Georgia led up to this decision.
The mental health system in North Carolina, as a result of lame attempts at reform by the state government, is a shambles, too, and so I imagine if the Justice Department has any more investigations slated for the future, one must be scheduled there.
This investigation is welcomed by many in the state of Missippi as a precursor of much needed change.