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Region 8 to reopen Crisis Center Aug. 1

Lincoln County’s new community mental health provider still hasthree months to bring in its robust services, but perhaps the mostimportant of those programs will begin operating in less than 30days.

Region 8 Mental Health Services Executive Director Dave Van saidhis group would reopen the Brookhaven Crisis Intervention Center onAug. 1 and operate it like an emergency room for mental healthpatients – the way it and the other six centers across the statewere always supposed to be operated. The 16 beds at the CIC will beavailable to patients on a voluntary and court-committed basis, andthe practice of running the centers as miniature mental hospitalswill end, he said.

“Right now, 100 percent of the people who go to the crisis centerare just there until they go to Whitfield (Mississippi StateHospital). We’ll treat them just like an ER would treat someone ata hospital,” Van said. “I think we’ll be able to substantiallydecrease the amount of people who have to go to Whitfield.”

The Brookhaven CIC will serve as home base for Region 8’s mobilecrisis assessment team, a two-man group of mental healthprofessionals who will be on call to respond to mental healthcrises 24 hours per day. The crisis team, when called upon, willvisit mental health patients in the home, do an assessment andimmediately begin a treatment plan.

“When somebody is in need of crisis services they can make onephone call and we’ll respond immediately,” Van said.

Van said the crisis center would also supplant the Lincoln CountyJail as the holding point for patients court-committed to receivetreatment. That’s welcome news for all involved with the commitmentprocess, especially patients’ families, said Lincoln CountyChancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop.

“It’s not just for the patients, it’s for the families,” saidBishop, whose office handles all mental health commitments. “In thejail, you’re locked down and you’re just there. In this place,there’s treatment.”

Bishop commented Friday morning, after attending three mentalhealth commitments before noon. One was voluntary, he said, but theother two were deemed flight risks and taken to jail.

“If we’d had the crisis center, all three could have startedtreatment now,” he said.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said there were fivecommitments in the jail Friday morning – three for mental healthand two drug commitments. While sitting in jail, none are receivingtreatment, he said.

“(The crisis center) will get mental patients out of jail, wherethey don’t need to be in the first place,” he said. “It will freeup our staff and free up room to hold the people who need to be injail.”