South Georgia needs qualified mental health professionals - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia needs qualified mental health professionals

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November 7, 2007

Albany-  South Georgia is in desperate need of qualified mental health workers. 

Wednesday, professionals talked about that need at a State Legislative Mental Health Professionals Study Committee hearing at Albany Technical College.  Representatives from south Georgia's state psychiatric hospitals and prisons say they face chronic staff and funding shortages that make it difficult to meet the needs.

"There's a lot of need whether it's in the community, whether it's in the prison.  The prison population is growing, community services are growing, we're getting more Vets back in that have a higher incidence of PTSD, but we don't have the numbers of professionals, licensed professional counselors in other disciplines to provide that needed constitutionally required care," said Leslie Lunney, Autry State Prison Mental health Director. 

Representative Richard Royal of Camilla chairs the subcommittee.  He said the panel will look into working with Albany State University on a social worker degree to help provide south Georgia with a trained workforce.  Professionals also suggested the state offer incentives such as tuition reimbursement for students seeking mental health training.

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