• 61°

It’s the sick who need a doctor

The following is a quick rundown of mental illness statistics in the state of Mississippi, from the Treatment Advocacy Center.

The state has an approximate adult population of 2.3 million. About 25,000 have schizophrenia, and about 50,000 have severe bipolar disorder.

Every state has civil commitment laws that establish criteria to determine when involuntary treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness. Mississippi’s laws are excellent in evaluation and commitment, according to the TAC grading scale.

However, a minimum of 50 public psychiatric beds is considered necessary for every 100,000 people. No state meets this minimum standard. In 2016, the state had 486 beds, compared to 1,156 in 2010. That equals 16.2 beds per 35 patients needing a bed. That dismal number still ranks Mississippi no lower than 10th nationwide.

For every 25 inmates in the state there are four mentally ill inmates who are incarcerated because of a need for commitment and a lack of beds. Mentally ill individuals who commit a crime are almost two times more likely to be sent to prison than to a mental hospital.

The system needs help. We owe it those who are ill.

Brett Campbell can be reached at 601-265-5307.