DMH SERVICES REDUCED DUE TO BUDGET CUTS
May 10, 2016 – As a result of funding reductions in its Fiscal Year 2017 budget, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) will be implementing a reduction in force and a reduction of services. DMH operates 12 programs throughout the state that provide services to people with mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorders.
In SB 2888, DMH received a cut of approximately 4.4% or $8.3 million in state support funds for FY17. DMH cannot absorb a cut of that magnitude without a decrease in services. The majority of the services and supports that will be impacted are provided using 100% general funds. Absorbing this cut is further complicated by the fact that DMH received a 1.5% cut and a 0.43% cut in FY16. In response to the required budget cuts over the past several years, DMH has focused on impacting the least number of people in the least negative way.
Because of the reduced funding appropriated for FY17, DMH must close some services. DMH’s goal is to minimize the number of layoffs by offering positions currently on recruitment to staff who work in the programs affected by these cuts. The closure of services and supports will impact local communities throughout the entire state. Below are some of the services that will be impacted.
- Mississippi State Hospital – Closure of the 29-bed Acute Medical Psychiatric Service. This unit served 66 people in FY15. The Medical Psychiatric Service provides services to people who have a major mental disorder and a complex medical condition that requires close monitoring and supervision. No additional admissions will be made to this service.
- Mississippi State Hospital (MSH) – Closure of the 42-bed Male Chemical Dependency Unit which serves people in need of treatment services for substance use disorders. This unit served 429 males in FY15. Treatment includes a specialized medical detoxification program, basic medical care, group therapy, counseling, family education, motivational interviewing and introduction to 12-Step Recovery. MSH will admit and treat only those people who have already been involuntarily committed for treatment and are currently waiting for services. MSH services and facilities will not be available for any additional male individuals committed by a court for chemical dependency services.
- East Mississippi State Hospital (EMSH) – Closure of the 25-bed Male Chemical Dependency Unit which serves individuals in need of treatment services for substance use disorders. This unit served 330 people in FY15. Treatment includes a specialized medical detoxification program, basic medical care, group therapy, counseling, family education, motivational interviewing and introduction to 12-Step Recovery. EMSH will admit and treat only those people who have already been involuntarily committed for treatment and are currently waiting for services. EMSH services and facilities will not be available for any additional male individuals committed by a court for chemical dependency services.
As a result of the closure of the Male Chemical Dependency Units at MSH and EMSH, there will no longer be state-operated male chemical dependency beds available in the state. Other treatment options are available in the community through DMH Certified Providers that offer primary residential services for adult males on a sliding scale fee and will be able to work with Chancery Courts for people under an alcohol and drug commitment order. The majority of these services are offered by local Community Mental Health Centers throughout the state.
- South Mississippi State Hospital (SMSH) – Closure of five psychiatric beds which serve people in need of treatment for a serious mental illness. These five beds serve more than 80 people each year. The closure of these five beds has the potential to increase the waiting list for the 15 counties in SMSH’s catchment area.
- Ellisville State School – Discontinuation of the provision of early intervention services, which will result in the loss of Special Instruction services to 128 children between the ages of birth to three. Special Instruction is designed to enhance development through routine-based intervention and parent training/coaching in the child’s natural environment. Children are provided with opportunities to learn, grow and play while enhancing their developmental skills.
Other DMH Programs are currently evaluating the impact of the budget cut and the potential effect on services statewide. Any additional budget cuts will result in additional cuts to services. The agency is also working to determine the extent to which programs will be affected by SB 2362, which swept funding from DMH’s budget for fees paid to certain agencies.
“It has been a very difficult process to determine how to take these cuts,” said Diana Mikula, DMH Executive Director. “The agency’s main focus has been and will continue to be ensuring the health and welfare of the people currently receiving services. Reduced funding requires a reduction in staff which requires a reduction in service so that the safety of people served and staff is not put at risk due to understaffed services. Since 2008, DMH has been reducing the number of employees working in programs across the state. In 2008, DMH had 8,971 employees. In 2015, DMH had 7,371. That is a difference of approximately 1,600 employees.”
This is not the first time DMH has had to reduce services and supports due to budget cuts. While the agency has been able to absorb some of the budget cuts since 2008, the cuts have resulted in the downsizing of programs, fewer employees, loss of early intervention programs, and the loss or reduction of other services.
Over the last several years, the number of adult psychiatric beds at MSH and EMSH has been reduced by 500. MSH consolidated 11 nursing home facilities into 10 facilities. The consolidation resulted in the closure of 36 beds. In June 2010, DMH closed a 16-bed unit at the Mississippi Adolescent Center in Brookhaven for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, leaving 32 beds. In 2009 and 2010, DMH closed several early intervention programs across the state. The programs were designed to enhance the development of infants, toddlers and young children with disabilities or children who are at risk for developing disabilities.
“The people we serve are the heart of everything we do, which is why cutting services and supports is so difficult,” said Mikula. “DMH’s organizational mission and vision are vital, but they mean little apart from the story that explains why what we are doing is important in the first place. That story is the people we serve – and their family members, their friends – everyone that we know whose life has been touched by mental illness, IDD and/or substance use.”
DMH is supporting a better tomorrow by making a difference in the lives of Mississippians with mental illness, substance use disorders and intellectual or developmental disabilities one person at a time.