State has 120 days to submit mental health compliance plan, following judge’s order

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 4:01 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state has 120 days to draw up its initial plan to bring its Department of Mental Health into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves handed down his final ruling in the state’s mental health case. As part of the ruling, he issued an eight-page order with 28 obligations the state must meet to bring its mental health system into ADA compliance. He also appointed a monitor, Dr. Michael Hogan, to oversee the state’s progress.

Hogan previously served as a special master to assess the state’s mental health offerings and reported back to the court on his findings.

“Dr. Michael Hogan is well-suited by qualifications, experience and judgment to serve as monitor in this case,” Reeves wrote.

The news comes just days after Reeves consulted with attorneys on both sides to determine how the court should move forward.

Under the orders, Mississippi must provide its initial implementation plan to the monitor and Department of Justice within 120 days and its final implementation plan within 180 days.

The hopes are the final plan will reform a state mental health system that has relied too heavily on segregation and institutionalism to one that relies on community-based approaches to treat individuals with mental health disorders.

Among provisions, the order mandates that the state will:

  • Evaluate patients to determine whether they qualify for at-home or community-based mental health services, and commit them to state hospitals only when the person is ordered by a chancery court
  • Begin discharge planning all new patients admitted to state hospitals within 24 hours of their admission
  • Begin discharge planning for all individuals appointed to a state hospital previously within one year of their admission
  • Allocate $200,000 annually beginning in the fiscal year 2022 for a medication assistance fund. Funds would be used to help patients receiving community-based care who could not access the medication needed to avoid hospitalization
  • Provide employment services to help individuals with persistent mental illness to obtain and maintain employment
  • Provide peer support services, mobile crisis teams, and crisis residential services in most mental health regions
  • Provide additional rental assistance vouchers to patients in fiscal years 2022 and 2023
  • Provide chancery courts in each county with an annual overview of the mental health services provided in their areas
  • Design and implement a clinical review process to ensure services are adequate.

The order will be in place until the state has “attained substantial compliance” with the order and maintained that compliance for a period of one year as determined by the court.

As for the court monitor, Hogan will be responsible for ensuring the state is working to achieve federal court mandates, will assess and validate data, and provide written reports to the court every six months.

A copy of the remedial order is shown below.

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