The Union County Board of Supervisors has made the right decision on a plan to handle housing mental patients awaiting a place in the state hospital.
The board has decided to adopt a proposal from the Region IV Mental Health Center in Tupelo to handle all the mental commitment for Union County. The mental health center already has two group homes with 18 beds in Tupelo that meet the mental health department’s standards.
Currently they are transported to the Union County Jail, which was not designed and is not adequately staffed to deal with the mentally ill. In short, the current practice is a problem waiting to be a bigger problem.
The Mississippi Legislature is requiring that county holding facilities become certified with the state Department of Mental Health.
To become certified would have required significant cost and ongoing staffing expense that the county cannot afford.
And it still would not be an ideal place to park the mentally ill while they work their way up the waiting list for a state hospital bed.
The committal process also is time consuming and expensive, both for the county sheriff’s department and the Union County chancery clerk’s office.
The cost of the new program will be $44,460 a year, which is much lower than the projected cost of fixing and staffing the county jail.
Nine other counties in north Mississippi already have signed up.
We commend the Board of Supervisors for joining this program that places the handling of the mentally ill in the hands of people trained to do that sort of work.