Mobile City and health officials discuss ways to improve mental health

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – Mobile City and other health officials are discussing ways to improve mental health services across the city. After the two-hour meeting, everyone agreed that the best way to help improve these services is to get more funding.

City Councilman Scott Jones said Alabama ranks last in mental health and he believes that is unacceptable.

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of seeing people with mental health die on our city streets,” Jones said. “And we can either watch it and do nothing, or we can take action, and I’m not going to just sit back and watch it.”

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Members of AltaPointe and the Alabama Department of Mental Health were also in attendance.

Mobile resident Shanvia Sushington shared an emotional testimony about her adopted son’s intellectual disability before city councilors. She hopes that sharing her story about her son can help shed more light on mental health resources in Mobile.

“This system even has citizens taking their own lives because of the poor state of our current resources,” Sushington said. “If Marcus could talk, he could tell you. That this year he spent 96 days in four different hospitals.

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AltaPointe CEO Turek Schlesinger said he was happy the meeting took place, but the main issue was the lack of funding.

“I think it was a heartwarming story for that mother, who really took on a lot when she adopted a person with special needs,” Schlesinger said. “But they also made the council start to realize that the problem is that the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities in this state has a lot to do with funding.”

Councilman William Carroll said programs like Medicaid could help with funding issues.

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“I think expanding Medicaid in this case will provide the resources that we need to address these types of mental illnesses and create those pockets of funding that we need,” Carroll said.

After a long meeting, city officials discuss where to get adequate funding.

“If we don’t find the money, we’re not going to solve the problem,” said Council Member Joel Daves.

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