SMSH recently took steps to expand the hospital's Bridging the Gap program.
South Mississippi State Hospital staff recently took
steps to expand their Bridging the Gap program to include chanceries,
legislators and law enforcement officers in the 15-county SMSH catchment area.
Bridging the Gap was born of the need to provide a
better continuity of care for patients being discharged from SMSH approximately two years ago, and
it quickly grew and evolved into a quarterly resource-sharing session.
“Bridging the Gap meetings help the staff from our
hospital, mental health centers, and community representatives feel like a team
working together to provide the best care for the people we serve,” said Debbie Dale, SMSH Training Director.
“Together we can accomplish so much more.”
SMSH, located in Purvis, is an acute-care, regional
behavioral health program that provides inpatient services for adults with
mental illness. SMSH serves Lamar, Forrest, Marion, Perry, Greene, Wayne,
Jones, Covington, Jefferson Davis, Stone, Pearl River, George, Harrison,
Hancock, and Jackson counties. The hospital is Joint Commission accredited.
Amanda Clement, a Peer Support Specialist at SMSH, opened
the August Bridging the Gap meeting by telling her story. She referred to the days before treatment as
her “dark days,” saying that her work with the Department of Mental Health has
played a huge role in her recovery.
Hers and other recovery stories can be accessed at
Clement was followed at the podium by Hattiesburg Police
Lt. LaTosha Myers-Mitchell, who is a trained CIT officer.
According to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health
website, Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) are a nationally-recognized best
practice and are the product of a partnership between local law enforcement
officers and a variety of agencies, including Community Mental Health Centers,
primary health providers and behavioral health professionals. Officers who have
received crisis intervention training respond to individuals experiencing a
mental health crisis and divert them to an appropriate setting to provide
treatment, ensuring individuals are not arrested and taken to jail due to the
symptoms of their illness.
“It’s critical that law enforcement and health
professionals get together and share information,” said Myers-Mitchell. “We are
the entities who encounter people in crisis, and we can be a better help when
we have these partnerships. I learned a lot just sitting in the [Bridging the
Gap] meeting listening. This gives us
insight into one another’s worlds. Most
of the time, we are encountering the same people, just in different
settings. When we are able to sit down
and share, it keeps us educated and informed to better serve the community; I
think law enforcement should continue to be a part of this.”
Various other mental health professionals shared
opportunities and programs available to assist in the treatment of mental
health issues as well as the more recently emphasized state and national opioid
The meeting was attended by approximately 50 individuals
who included inpatient and outpatient mental health providers from across South
Mississippi, Department of Mental Health Deputy Director Steven Allen, and
State Senator Angela Hill (R - Picayune), who toured the hospital and was
complimentary of the staff and work being done at SMSH.
It is the hope of SMSH Director Sabrina Young that
Bridging the Gap will continue to grow and be a valuable resource to mental
health providers in South Mississippi.
“Bridging the Gap is an important communication tool for
our staff as well as outpatient providers in locating resources and services
for the people we serve,” said Young. “I am excited about it and look forward
to helping grow the program.”