South Georgia cities join effort to improve mental health care - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia cities join effort to improve mental health care

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Mitchell-Baker Service Center patients singing Christmas carols at the Camilla Chamber of Commerce Wednesday for the Mayors Motorcade Mitchell-Baker Service Center patients singing Christmas carols at the Camilla Chamber of Commerce Wednesday for the Mayors Motorcade
Beth English, GMA President & Easter Seals Executive Director Beth English, GMA President & Easter Seals Executive Director
Camilla Mayor Vernon Twitty, who also serves as Chairman of the Mayors Motorcade. Camilla Mayor Vernon Twitty, who also serves as Chairman of the Mayors Motorcade.
Representatives from Camilla, Albany, Sylvester, Baconton, Valdosta and Fitzgerald in the old train depot at the Camilla Chamber of Commerce Wednesday for the Mayors Motorcade Representatives from Camilla, Albany, Sylvester, Baconton, Valdosta and Fitzgerald in the old train depot at the Camilla Chamber of Commerce Wednesday for the Mayors Motorcade
Some of the clothing donated to the Mayors Motorcade, which was distributed to patients all across region 4 Some of the clothing donated to the Mayors Motorcade, which was distributed to patients all across region 4
CAMILLA, GA (WALB) -

Some South Georgia mental health providers are helping patients without a family have a merry Christmas.

Leaders from cities around South Georgia delivered gifts for the Mayors Motorcade Wednesday.   It comes as communities brace for changes to mental health treatment when Southwestern State Hospital closes this month.

The Georgia Municipal Association has been hosting the event for more than half a century, but this year marks the 2nd community based motorcade.  Mitchell-Baker Service Center patients sang Christmas carols at the Camilla Chamber of Commerce to bring in a new holiday season.  With it comes a new era for treatment.

"There's several Million dollars going into Thomasville, Valdosta and Albany to provide services, particularly in the mental health arena to prevent crisis or deal with crisis," said Beth English, GMA President.

English said the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has beefed up services as some facilities close, including Southwestern State Hospital which will shut down on December 31st. 

"So the people that have moved out of the state hospital in Thomasville into community residences are really going to be blessed by the efforts of Georgia cities," English said.

Many people with developmental disabilities will now receive treatment in community homes in a statewide effort to reduce costs and improve treatment.

"And that's how cities and citizens of these cities can make an impact on their lives, by helping them to be a productive part of a community.  And that's where I think the future of mental health is going," said Vernon Twitty, Camilla Mayor who also serves as Chairman of the Mayors Motorcade.

Wednesday, Camilla and several south Georgia cities provided clothing, personal hygiene items and other gifts for all patients without families making transitions.

"It's great to do something for somebody when they can't help you," Twitty said. 

And the simple act of giving could greatly improve treatment.

"When you feel welcome, you feel a lot better about yourself and your situation.  And we hope they'll feel loved not only at Christmas time, but throughout the year," said the Mayor.   And the thousands of dollars and hundreds of pounds of donated items, he said, will go a long way to help patients throughout the region.

Representatives from Albany, Camilla, Fitzgerald, Sylvester, Valdosta and Baconton were at the event.  Providers say community based programs offer a more individualized care for patients.  Mayor Twitty says Albany will likely become a treatment center for many patients seeking help in the region.

The executive director of Easter Seals said many patients are already out of Southwestern State Hospital.  The group moved six people from the facility this year and plan to move three more in January.  

 

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