- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - The Northeast Delta Human Services Authority is working to expand mental health and addiction assistance to some of the more underserved areas in the Delta that are home to high poverty rates and few options to such services.

One major area of focus is West Carroll Parish where the agency’s director, Dr. Monteic Sizer, said some of the greatest need in northeastern Louisiana can be found.

The News-Star reports (https://tnsne.ws/1fAz91E ) a public meeting is planned for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove.

Community residents will be influential in helping solve some of the mental health and addictive issues the parish has faced for numerous years, Sizer said.

Northeast Delta Human Services is under Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital’s Office of Behavioral Health. It serves residents in the 12-parish region and has clinics in Caldwell, Franklin, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse and Ouachita parishes.

It wants to expand services in East Carroll, West Carroll, Madison, Richland and Union parishes.

“We’ve heard from the citizens of those regions for a long time that they’ve been without mental health and addiction services so we want to do whatever is necessary so these residents have the same opportunity as other parishes to make sure they have access to these services,” Sizer said.

He said these underserved parishes face significant challenges as many have lived in poverty for generations.

“Poverty, mental health and addiction are not just strongly correlated, they are predicted. That’s the reason we want to be in these locations,” Sizer said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six - or 48 million - Americans lives in poverty. Approximately 3.7 million of those in poverty are in need of treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, but less than a quarter get the help they need.

“We are not deterred by these challenges. We are going out there to them. This is the first time a mental health authority has gone to where the greatest needs are and our goal is to tailor our services to their particular needs,” Sizer said.

People who suffer from addiction or mental health and go years without assistance typically die young, live unproductive lives and often a “hopeless existence,” Sizer said.

“We understand it’s a vicious cycle but together we can make a significant difference in people’s lives,” Sizer said.


Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com

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