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Mental Health Care Struggling in Alabama?

An article by Melanie Yuill of ABC 33/40 quotes Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams as stating that when it comes to mental health in Alabama the state needs to "step up". Sheriff Williams goes on to explain "Our problem in the state of Alabama is we have nowhere to put them. Our county jails are being flooded with mental patients..."

Yuill goes on to say

Dr. Jacqueline Feldman with the UAB Department of Psychiatry and Neurobiology said, "there are a lot of people who have a serious mental illness who need treatment and are finding it hard to access it in a timely fashion. "Dr. Feldman said three of four state mental hospitals have closed, the only one left is Bryce Hospital. And she said there are not enough psychiatrists treating people with serious mental illness. "Unfortunately a lot of patients with mental illness, not just in Alabama this is a nationwide tragedy, are getting their care in the criminal justice system and not in the mental health system because resources are limited."

In December the Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner told ABC33/40 there are 3,000 inmates who receive some kind of mental health services. Dr. Feldman said she hopes that changes soon because a new task force has been created to come up with solutions. She said Medicaid, The Department of Mental Health, and Department of Corrections are now working together to figure out how to spend the money available to them. Dr. Feldman said training more police officers on how to deal with people who have mental illness and having more community resources available to the mentally ill would be a big help. She said then instead of being arrested and put in jail people with mental illness can get the help they need. -Melanie Yuill, ABC 33/40

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