DISABILITY ADVOCATES COMMENT ON APPEAL OF MISSISSIPPI MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM CASE
JACKSON, Mississippi — Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) finds the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to overturn the lower court order requiring Mississippi to make changes to the state’s mental healthcare decision both disappointing and dangerous.
“As the federally-mandated protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Mississippi, we have absolutely no doubt people with mental illness are unnecessarily institutionalized in our state,” said Polly Tribble, Executive Director of Disability Rights Mississippi. “The statistics show it, and we know it from working with the families of Mississippians with disabilities.”
Mississippians with mental illness who require mental healthcare have the right to receive the support and services they need in their own communities, as dictated by the Olmstead Decision of 1999. Unfortunately, a survey by government experts concluded that many individuals who have been institutionalized in Mississippi could have avoided the experience if adequate community-based care had been provided. Unnecessary institutionalization is not only a violation of a person with a disability’s civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also impacts their well-being and the lives of their families and loved ones.
“The Attorney General stated in response to the decision that, in essence, Mississippi did not want the federal government coming in to dictate the way the state provided mental healthcare,” said Tribble. “But if Mississippi was making improvements to its mental healthcare system, as the state has claimed, in conjunction with the order, why did the state feel the need to appeal? Shouldn’t it be everyone’s hope that people with mental illness are receiving the care they need in the best environment for positive outcomes, no matter who is dictating it? These are questions we love to hear the state answer.”
DRMS is the federally mandated protection and advocacy (P&A) agency for the state of Mississippi. DRMS’ mission is to promote, protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of all people with disabilities, and to assist them with full inclusion in home, community, education, and employment.