Mental health services provided to evacuees

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2005

REGION – Evacuees now have someone to confide in during their time of need thanks to the West Alabama Mental Health Center.

The center has staff available to provide counseling services to families who have relocated due to Hurricane Katrina.

“We have been going since Saturday,” Kelley Parris-Barnes, executive director for the center, said. “We understand that one out of four displaced individuals suffer from some sort of mental illness whether it be anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or depression.”

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Barnes said the center has seen all the evacuees who needed help in Sumter County shelters and are currently providing help to evacuees who are just passing through the area and families who are still trickling into the area.

“Right now we need a psychiatrist to write prescriptions,” Barnes said. “A lot medications have either been contaminated or lost.”

The main center is located in Demopolis on Highway 80 right behind Hardee’s, but there are satellite offices in Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Sumter and Marengo counties.

The centers provide intervention and prevention services, substance abuse help, family counseling and case-management services, which provide a link between citizens in need and the appropriate offices.

“I want to take away the stigma that if you are contacting us, you must be really ill,” Barnes said. “We can serve anyone in the five counties we cover. We are a community mental health provider.”

Barnes said the prices are on a slide so the services are affordable for anyone. The center also accepts Medicaid from Mississippi and Louisiana residents.

If you are a displaced resident and are in need of mental health medication call 225-922-2700.

For information on Medicaid benefits in other states call the pharmacy at 1-800-437-9101 or for general Medicaid questions call1-888-342-6207.

Fpr immediate assistance with mental health issues in Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Sumter and Marengo counties call 334-289-2410 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours call 1-800-239-2901.

She also said if citizens are in need of help and don’t have transportation, they should call the office.

Barnes hopes to meet with the state department and public health service providers Friday to determine a plan for displaced individuals.