DMH Consolidates Functions at Behavioral Health Programs

The Department of Mental Health announced in July a consolidation of various aspects of its programs in an effort to reduce administrative overhead while continuing to deliver quality services to Mississippians in need.

The department’s six programs for mental health services will be consolidated under the umbrellas of two of its current programs, Mississippi State Hospital and East Mississippi State Hospital. Specialized Treatment Facility will become a satellite program of Mississippi State Hospital, while North Mississippi State Hospital, South Mississippi State Hospital, and Central Mississippi Residential Center will become satellite programs of East Mississippi State Hospital in Meridian. This is similar to a consolidation in 2015 when the Mississippi Adolescent Center became a satellite program under Boswell Regional Center. After the consolidation, the two programs were able to reduce expenditures in personal services by sharing staff, including maintenance and administrative staff, and the merging of electronic health records.

“The Mississippi Legislature, in our appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018, gave the Department of Mental Health a lump sum budget number for all of our programs so that we could have the flexibility to reorganize and consolidate programs as needed,” DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula said.

“This reorganization will allow our programs to have the ability to share administrative staff and resources. This is a streamlining of backroom operations and will not impact the delivery of services to people in need at these programs. We will be able to accomplish this streamlining of administrative services through attrition, retirements, and the elimination of vacant positions.”

Streamlining is already occurring and includes programs sharing staff instead of replacing positions that become vacant, such as human resources, billing, and other support functions.  

The Mississippi Board of Mental Health has also taken steps to reduce costs by changing its schedule of regular board meetings. Board meetings are held in different locations in order to allow members to spend time at the programs throughout the state.  Beginning in July, meetings will move from being held every month to every other month. While DMH’s travel expenditures account for only 0.013% of its budget, decreasing the travel related to monthly board meetings will help lower the overall cost of travel.

“I appreciate the Board of Mental Health taking additional steps to help the agency in our efforts,” Mikula said. “By consolidating and streamlining services at our behavioral health programs for administrative purposes, we will be able to keep acute psychiatric services available in communities throughout Mississippi with our satellite locations. Mississippians should have the opportunity to live in the community and be included in their community. Services must be provided on a continuum of where the person is at that time and what their needs are at that time. Needs may range from outpatient therapy, to case management, to crisis services, or as a last resort, to commitment to a behavioral health program. In all of these areas, we must keep our focus person-centered.”

Due to budget cuts and efforts to reduce reliance on general funds with minimal impact to services, in May DMH announced plans to cut the agency’s workforce by up to 650 jobs. DMH has 1,361 fewer filled positions than at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2012. From Fiscal Year 2012 through Fiscal Year 2016, personal service expenditures have dropped by $16,253,662.

“I appreciate the support we have received from other agencies during this consolidation process, including the Department of Finance and Administration, MS Management and Reporting System, and the State Personnel Board. Our mission is to provide a better tomorrow for people in need of services for mental illness, substance use disorders, or intellectual/developmental disabilities,” Mikula said. “We are taking these steps to ensure that we are providing that better tomorrow while also efficiently utilizing our services and streamlining our organization.”