This is a sad situation, but one that goes on all over the US as we have to decide what to spend money on. Mental health care, especially evaluations and treatment for addicts or others involved in the criminal justice system, is something that too many people would rather just ignore, and throw those human lives away.
The budget cuts last year forced the mental health department to shed 650 jobs. Many of the employees left, including those who work directly with patients, make about $8 per hour. The turnover rate as of 2017, according to Robert Landrum, chair of the state board of mental health, is 48 percent.
Landrum knows this intimately. Years ago he had a son in a facility overseen by Mississippi’s Department of Mental Health. When a direct care worker left, his son spiraled for days, Landrum said. One day, his son’s dorm supervisor was gone. Two days later, Landrum saw her at McDonald’s, working as a chef supervisor.
“She said, ‘I just can make more money at McDonald’s,’” Landrum said at a legislative luncheon this year.