Nurse pleads with state leaders to replace lost mental health treatment facility

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:02 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A nurse and mental health advocate is urging state leaders to find more beds following the loss of a Jackson treatment facility. Dr. Irish Patrick Williams is a 40-year registered nurse who has worked with the mentally ill at St. Dominic’s.

“Employees can find another job,” said Williams. “Where is my mental health patient going to go now?”

The news of the behavioral services closure left her reeling and fearful of the plight of those needing treatment.

“I have a cousin that has mental health issues and has for years, and I’m one of his primary go-to persons. I know how hard it is to try to get mental health,” said the registered nurse.

The nursing instructor estimates that the loss of the hospital’s at least 75 beds for psychiatric treatment will result in more homelessness and more incarcerations.

“There are so many people that don’t look at mental health the way we do hypertension or diabetes,” said Williams. “But people with mental health have to go. They need to go in every now and then for a tune-up or adjustment of medicines just like someone with hypertension.”

The state was sued in federal court for its mental health services for adults with a serious mental illness. Recently, the court monitor noted substantial improvements in offering community-based care versus institutionalizing adults.

But the monitor says more work is still needed. Now, there is one fewer facility handling the psychiatric and drug rehabilitation needs of young people and adults.

“We’re really gonna be in a bad place,” added Williams. “So I’m hoping that our governor and our other elected officials will take this into consideration and really look at what we do to at least maintain the status quo instead of declining.”

She wants lawmakers to find the space for patients before the lack of treatment becomes a crisis.

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