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Mental health provider prepared for transition

Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources will begin providing the county’s mental health services Tuesday.

Currently, Gulf Coast Mental Health Center provides mental health services to the county’s residents. The Board of Supervisors requested a change as to the provider of mental health services by moving from Region 13 to Region 12 in August, according to previous coverage.

Pine Belt is prepared to provide services on Oct. 1, said public relations manager Joanne Marsh, and has been working with the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center in Picayune to ensure continued access to care and continuity of care.

“They have been very helpful,” Marsh said. “Gulf Coast wants to make sure those folks get taken care of as well.”

Pine Belt will offer mental health services in the same location where Gulf Coast operates in Picayune. The phone number to reach the clinic will also remain the same, Marsh said.

Before the transition began, the Picayune office was not fully staffed, Marsh said. Pine Belt plans to have a staff of seven to provide core services, including clinicians, community support specialists, a nurse practitioner and administrative support staff, Marsh said via email. As services in different programs are built up, the clinic is expected to employ as many as 20 people.

Several of the clinic’s current staff will continue working there under the new provider, and Pine Belt is in the process of hiring additional employees, Marsh said.

Clinical staff from some of Pine Belt’s other offices will also be working at the Picayune office temporarily to ensure everyone is seen and no appointments are missed, Marsh said.

“Our most important goal was for there to not be a lapse in service,” Marsh said.

Pine Belt will do a needs assessment to see what service areas it currently operates in other counties that are not available in Pearl River County, Marsh said, and if the services are needed then the mental health provider hopes to introduce new programs and grow existing ones.

In other counties, Pine Belt offers an elderly day program, school based classrooms and day treatment programs for adults with serious mental illness who are trying to integrate themselves back into the community, all of which are services that are not currently available in Pearl River County, Marsh said.