Too much suffering Mississippi’s juvenile mental health system in need of overhaul

Published 2:14 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The state’s mental health care system for children has failed.

Monday, we were appalled to report that Oak Circle — the children’s portion of the Mississippi State Hospital — had tired after less than a week of treatment to release a 16-year-old girl who had attempted suicide and murder several times in the past month.

“They said they can’t treat her mental case because of her medical case and we need to take her to Blair E. Batson. Batson doesn’t want her because she’s assaulting nurses and she’s assaulting doctors because of her mental illness,” the girl’s mother said.

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The state should be ashamed of this equivalent of putting a tiny bandage on a gaping wound. Warren County Judge Johnny Price, obviously fed up with the situation, ordered the girl held indefinitely until a doctor testified that she was no longer suicidal.

But Price, as a single judge in a single county, can only do so much. The state needs a long-term mental health care facility, so no family will have to go through where this Warren County family is experiencing.

“I’ve always said I’d rather have her instituted and alive than free and dead, but I want my child healed so she can come home,” the girl’s father said. “Nobody seems to want to help.”

Even more appalling, is the fact that for the past four years the girl has bounced from mental hospital to mental hospital, never staying longer than 30 days before being committed again.

The time to do something has long passed. Our community must stand up now and say enough is enough.

The girl’s family is already worried it might be too late for their child but know it’s never too late to help others.

“I might not be able to get the help for my child that my child needs. There might be a chance my child dies before she gets the medical help she needs,” her father said. “But if they can save somebody else’s life because of how my child fell through the cracks, some good would come from this.”