AMA President discusses push for more mental health services in Mississippi

The first African American woman to head the American Medical Association talks with us in an exclusive interview.

Mental health push for services

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The first African American woman to head the American Medical Association talks with us in an exclusive interview. Dr. Patrice Harris is a psychiatrist who focuses on children. She explains why this issue is so important and needs attention sooner rather than later.

The President of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice Harris discusses mental health needs. (Source: WLBT)
The President of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice Harris discusses mental health needs. (Source: WLBT)

Childhood trauma, violence, crime, poverty, even bullying have almost become the norm according to healthcare professionals. A norm that far too often is ignored.

Dr. Patrice Harris says it is an issue we all should be concerned about.

Dr. Harris said, “as a child psychiatrist I know full well the importance of making sure that we are beginning early in the 3-5 year stage. We really have to make sure that we are developing what I call and others call socio-emotional health in our children.”

Dr. Harris is the first African American woman to head the American Medical Association says her focus has been to improve the lives of children and others who face mental health issues.

Dr. Harris said, “it’s important to just amplify the issue and continue to educate the public that these are chronic health diseases just like hypertension and diabetes.”

Dr. Michael Mansour is the President of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He says this state is making strides but there is still much work to do.

Dr. Michael Mansour, the President of the Mississippi State Medical Association says this state is making improvements but more work needs to be done for mental health. (Source: WLBT)
Dr. Michael Mansour, the President of the Mississippi State Medical Association says this state is making improvements but more work needs to be done for mental health. (Source: WLBT)

“We have been advocating for this for years and the legislature this year passed legislation to allow mental health courts in each county in the state”, Dr. Mansour said.

Dr. Mansour says the goal of these courts is to help those with mental illness who end up in jail.

Dr. Mansour said, "the purpose of this is people with mental illness need to get the proper medical care. It doesn't do any good to put them in jail when they're not being properly treated for their medical condition or mental illness."

Dr. Mansour adds when those with mental health issues are properly treated it reduces their recidivism rates for returning to jail and allows them to lead functional lives.

Jackson cardiologist Dr. Clay Hays was installed Friday night as the 152nd President of the Mississippi State Medical Association.

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