SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - A multi-county mental health provider in South Mississippi could shut its doors next month due to a lack of funding.
Gulf Coast Mental Health announced Tuesday in a letter to county supervisors that they will not be able to provide funding for services after Aug. 11, 2019. Employees at Gulf Coast Mental Health told WLOX they were notified Thursday about the closure.
Law enforcement and county officials met with the center’s leadership on Thursday.
What are we going to do differently so we don’t risk losing mental health for our community again," asked Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania. “To have this kind of conversation about such a needed entity in our community is shameful.”
Gulf Coast Mental Health Center serves Harrison, Hancock, Stone, and Pearl River counties, with outpatient clinics located in each county. The regional center also has two residential homes, a crisis stabilization unit for those who are civilly committed, and programs for people with severe mental disorders and developmental disabilities.
In the letter to county supervisors, the clinic’s board of commissioners say they will begin referring all clients to community providers. Because the clinic receives state and federal funds, the Department of Mental Health will be notified to provide assistance with placing the residents in the two supervised living group homes. The letter says assistance will also be requested on how to discontinue the other services, including the crisis stabilization unit.
No new admissions will be taken after Aug. 1, 2019, said the letter, adding that all involuntary commitments through the chancery court will be sent directly to state hospitals.
Gulf Coast Mental Health Center offers outpatient services to residents in the four counties, which includes a medication clinic and case management for children and adults. Those locations are:
- Harrison County Main Office, 1600 Broad Ave, Gulfport
- Biloxi Satellite Office, 228 Rue Petit Bois, Biloxi
- Hancock County Satellite Office, 819-B Central Ave., Bay St. Louis
- Pearl River County Satellite Office, 211 Hwy. 11 South, Picayune
- Stone County Satellite Office, 200 Coastal Paper Ave., Wiggins
Gulf Coast Mental Health also has a crisis stabilization unit, which is a residential treatment facility for patients who are civilly committed from Harrison, Hancock, Stone, and Pearl River counties.
Two group homes - one for men and one for women - are also operated by the program, providing care for people who are seriously mentally ill. Additionally, two psychosocial clubhouse programs are also available in Waveland and Long Beach that provide additional services people with mental illness.
According to Gulf Coast Mental Health’s website, the program receive funds through federal block grants, Medicaid reimbursement, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, county taxes, contractual agreements, fees for services, and contributions, both direct and through the United Way.
The multi-county regional commission that governs the program is made up on one supervisor from each county.
The Harrison County Board of Supervisors released a statement Thursday after news of the closure was made public:
“The Harrison County Board of Supervisors has had a commitment to public mental health for more than 50 years. As part of the four-county commission, the board has funded Region XIII gulf Coast Mental Health Center at $1.4 million for the Fiscal Year 2019. This was an increase of about $175,000 from the previous year’s budget. The funding for FY 2019, which was to be appropriated over 12 months, was paid in full in June for the remainder of the fiscal year. The Harrison County Board of supervisors is disheartened by the announcement from Gulf Coast Mental Health Centers, as mental health is something that affects many of the residents of our county. The board has reached out to its partner county as well as state and local agencies to find a viable solution to this issue.”
Adam Moore, the Director of Communications with the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, gave WLOX News the following statement on the Mental Health Center’s future:
“The Mississippi Department of Mental Health was made aware on Tuesday afternoon that Region 13 Gulf Coast Mental Health Center announced that it will end its operations next month. Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) are operated under regional commissions appointed by county boards of supervisors. DMH is responsible for certifying, coordinating and establishing minimum standards and services for CMHCs and other providers. DMH staff has been in contact with local and state officials to discuss possible outcomes that would allow residents in these coastal counties to continue receiving community-based services. The Board of Mental Health voted Thursday to authorize key DMH executive staff and attorneys to negotiate an agreement with the commissioners of Region 13 to provide limited financial resources, contingent upon a sustainability plan, for the CMHC to continue providing community-based services for their region.”