Miss. AG Jim Hood hopes settlement will fund mental health

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday he hopes that lawmakers will use $20.2 million that the state received from settling its lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies to fund mental health programs next year.

Hood, a Democrat, said the funds would address the mental health care “crisis” that prompted child-services advocates to sue the state in 2010. He said that increasing funds for community programs could prevent similar legal challenges in the future.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in their ongoing case charges that Mississippi fails to care for low-income children with mental illness. The plaintiffs say that, in order to avoid further lawsuits, the state must shift funds away from large psychiatric hospitals and toward community care.