Advocates searching for solution to temporary housing for crisis mental health cases

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - When mental health care becomes a crisis situation, finding a place for treatment can become a crisis in itself. Now, leaders from the state, local governments and private businesses are working on solutions.

Pine Belt Mental Health started providing services on the Gulf Coast in February, taking over for Gulf Coast Mental Health after a funding crisis shut them down.

“So we are getting to know the area and all the individuals, both those seeking services but also the ones that are providers in the area and as we get to know the community more, we’re going to end up seeing more of what the specific needs of the Coast are,” said Rita Porter, director of Pine Belt Mental Health Adult Services.

One of the needs is a place for people in crisis, for those who need intense, in-patient care at what’s called a Crisis Stabilization Unit. Pine Belt has a 16-bed facility in Gulfport that serves four counties, but if it’s full, patients could end up in a local emergency room or a crisis unit in another part of the state.

“We don’t have contracts with other private providers, but we do have MOUs (memorandum of understanding) with other Crisis Stabilization Units, so if somebody came to be admitted to a CSU and we didn’t have any current beds available, we might contact other CSUs in other areas to see if there are beds available,” Porter said.

In Harrison County, if Pine Belt can’t take the patient, it falls to the Chancery Clerk’s office to find a bed. That’s why Chancery Clerk John McAdams has arranged a meeting Wednesday that will address the way crisis mental health placements are handled. Among those attending the meeting is State Rep. Kevin Felsher.

“It was quite a transition for Gulf Coast Mental Health to be turned over to Region 12 with Pine Belt, and I think it has gone good, and hopefully we’re going to get it to where it goes great, and that’s the objective of this meeting, so I’m very glad that he called it and I’m optimistic about the results we will achieve from it,” Felsher said.

There is a complicated coalition of governmental and private organizations that are charged with finding the solution to ensuring that residents get the help they need quickly. Wednesday’s meeting should get that process started.

If you or someone you know needs mental health resources in South Mississippi, CLICK HERE for more information.

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