Legislative Updates


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Mississippi Department of Mental Health

2017 Legislative Agenda

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) mission is to support a better tomorrow by making a difference in the lives of Mississippians with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual/developmental disabilities, one person at a time.

DMH’s legislative agenda outlines key objectives that support our goal of ensuring that people living with mental illness, substance use disorder, and intellectual and/or developmental disabilities receive the treatment and supports necessary to lead a meaningful life in the community.

1)       Direct Care Series Realignment – DMH is requesting general funds to be appropriated for a Direct Care Series realignment at the amount recommended under the Proposed Job Class realignment issued by the State Personnel Board – $4,941,997. This amount includes the applicable Medicaid match (state share) associated with the realignment request. Turnover for this class of employees is the highest of any position in state government and these are the employees providing front line care to the people served on a daily basis. Currently, approximately 2,900 are employed in the Direct Care Series within DMH’s programs. Approximately $7.9 million of special funds spending authority requested will be applied to the remaining amount needed for implementing the Direct Care Series Realignment. Below is the impact of the Direct Care Series Realignment:


Current Start





Proposed New Start Salary

Proposed New Hourly

Direct Care Worker, Trainee






Direct Care Worker






For more information about the requested Direct Care Series realignment, click here.

2)      Medicaid Match for the Home and Community Based Waiver – The additional appropriation over the last four fiscal years for expansion of community-based services has allowed DMH to transition an additional 650 people to the community through the Home and Community Based Wavier (HCBW) program.  HCBW is a Medicaid funded program that allows reimbursement to providers when serving eligible people who have an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) in need of support and treatment in the community. Without this program, people who benefit from these services would likely only have more intensive, restrictive and unnecessary services available to them. The state share (match) for the HCBW is paid through DMH’s Service Budget for all fees paid to providers. BIP funds (Balancing Incentive Program) provided by the Division of Medicaid, have supplemented state appropriated funds and allowed our agency to add additional waiver slots so that we were able to serve 2,503 individuals through the HCBS program at the end of FY16. These funds are no longer available. With carryover from the BIP credits and payments expected with funding sources available in FY17, the shortage of general funds to fund the FY18 state share is $11,945,322. DMH is requesting the appropriations of these funds in FY18 to continue serving, and expanding services, provided through the HCBW.

3)       Reopening of 25-Bed Adult Male Chemical Dependency Unit – At the end of FY16, DMH closed the 25-bed Male Chemical Dependency Unit at East Mississippi State Hospital and the 43-bed Male Chemical Dependency Unit at Mississippi State Hospital which serves people in need of treatment services for substance use disorders. These two units served 776 people in FY16. Treatment included a specialized medical detoxification program, basic medical care, group therapy, counseling, family education, motivational interviewing and introduction to 12-Step Recovery. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes there is evidence that approximately 90 percent of people with alcohol dependency are likely to experience at least one relapse in the four-year period following treatment. It may take a person an average of five to seven serious attempts at treatment before achieving a goal of long-term recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the relapse rate for drug addiction is 40 to 60 percent. Recovery from addiction and substance use is a challenging and complex process. While long-term recovery is the ultimate goal, the services provided at the CDUs help patients experience a period of sobriety, take their first steps to long-term recovery, and be linked to community services that will enable them to continue their recovery. DMH is requesting funds to be appropriated for the reopening of this unit. The total operating costs associated with this request is $1,985,461.

4)      Continued Funds for Expansion of Community-Based Services – For the past four fiscal years, the Mississippi Legislature has appropriated funds to DMH to expand community-based services. A total of $16.1 million in general funds was appropriated to DMH in FY17 and in FY16. The same amount of $16.1 million is requested for FY2018. With these funds, new services and supports have been added to the public mental health system as well as the expansion of current services. These funds are provided in the form of grants to Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs), private providers, and DMH Programs. These funds have been used to establish Programs of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) teams in different areas of the state, fund Mobile Crisis Response Teams at 14 CMHCs that serve people throughout the state, fund crisis stabilization beds for people with IDD who have no other means of support, and meet the Medicaid match requirements of people now served in the community through the Home and Community Based Services program (Medicaid Waiver). DMH respectfully requests that these funds be continued to ensure that these services to people throughout the state are sustained.

For more information about the expansion of community-based services, click here.

5)      Forensic Services – DMH is requesting in its capital improvement plan submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration a new 60-bed Forensic Services facility. The new facility is needed because the current 35-bed facility, which was built in 1955, does not provide the required level of security and safety and is a significant factor contributing to delays in conducting evaluations of defendants throughout the state. The proposed Forensic Services facility construction project includes planning costs of approximately $500,000. Mississippi State Hospital is the only state-operated program that provides forensic mental health services in the state. Forensic Services provides pre-trial evaluations and treatment for criminal defendants from Circuit Courts in all 82 Mississippi counties. Of the 35 beds, 15 beds are dedicated for inpatient evaluation, treatment, and competency restoration of pre-trial Circuit Court defendants. The remaining 20 beds are for the treatment of individuals who have been found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity or who must be treated on the unit due to specific safety or security concerns.

January 3, 2017

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