A Sense of Purpose, Region 8 provides working program for mentally challenged

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, July 31, 2013

     Staff members and friends of Region 8 Mental Health in Brookhaven hosted an open-house luncheon Tuesday to give consumers of the new Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services program an opportunity to talk about the new Prevocational and Work Activities Service program that brings industry to Lincoln County and provides its members with a sense of purpose.

     Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop was among the visitors. Bishop said Region 8 Mental Health and all of its services have been a vital investment for Lincoln County’s mentally challenged citizens. He is a Region 8 Commissioner and his chancery court office is responsible for mental commitments.

     “Before Region 8 mental health facilities were brought to Lincoln County we had to use the county jail system to house commitments,” Bishop said. “People with mental health issues are not criminals.”

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     This is the first time the Work Activities Service program has been offered in Lincoln County, Executive Director Dave Van said. Consumers of the program come to the center daily and have jobs in industry, such as building harnesses for General Motors Company and creating information packets for student recruitment, according to Van.

     “We contract with companies like Multicraft International [of Pelahatchie],” Van said. “They manufacture harnesses for GM vehicle products.”

     Van said they have a number of other similar work contracts including one with the Mississippi Department of Transportation that sees participants putting  together informational packets used to educate high school students across the state about careers in engineering.

     According to Van, the program is beneficial to tax payers because they are not paying for these participants to be institutionalized. Instead, program participants get to stay at home and become productive members of the community.

     “This is a population that would likely be institutionalized at a rate of 100 percent if this program didn’t exist,” he said. “It allows students to go to work and be productive citizens, and it allows their caregivers to work during the day also.”

     Lou Robison of Brookhaven, whose daughter Bebe is part of the program said she and other parents have been pleased with the outcome of the program.

     “The staff is very accommodating and helpful,” she said. “Bebe feels like she is doing something purposeful with her time.”

     “We really appreciate the county for their part in bringing the facilities here to Brookhaven,” Robison continued.

     Counselors for the Work Activity program work out individualized plans designed to keep the student functioning independently. They begin the process by evaluating students to determine skill level and interests.

     The program is funded by a grant through the Department of Mental Health.

     In addition to giving workers a strong sense of self worth, Van said all contract revenue from work produced goes directly to participants.

     “One hundred percent of funds that come in from contracts with businesses goes back to the consumers in their monthly paycheck,” he said.

     To be eligible for Region 8 services students must be residents of Copiah, Lincoln, Madison, Rankin, or Simpson counties. They must also have Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Certification based on a current evaluation by a licensed physician or psychologist, or be enrolled in an IDD Waiver Program.

     Participants in the Prevocational and Work Activities program must be at least 16.


Area locations:

Copiah County

1019 Carroll Drive

Hazlehurst, MS 39083

(601) 849-2018

Lincoln County

620 Hwy 51 North

Brookhaven, Ms. 39601


Madison County

103 South Lake Circle

Canton, MS 39046

(601) 859-8371

Rankin County

613 Marquette Road

Brandon, MS 39042

(601) 939-8800

(601) 824-0342-Administration

Simpson County

3087 Simpson Highway 13

Mendenhall, MS 39114

(601) 847-4410