The celebration of East Mississippi State Hospital’s 125th anniversary will include a number of activities: an anniversary program and special events, recognition of long-time employees and retirees, plus proclamations from state and local government officials.

“It is good to look back at the past and appreciate the achievements that have been made in the treatment of mental illness and how it is perceived,” said Charles Carlisle, EMSH director.

However, the hospital’s administration and staff also plan to use the occasion to diminish negative attitudes that surround mental illness.

“East Mississippi State Hospital is among local mental health facilities that have joined a statewide anti-stigma campaign,” said Betty Moffett Stamm, EMSH’s public relations director. “This also coincides with the May is Mental Health Month observance.”

Other local facilities supporting the campaign are Weems Community Mental Health Center, Central Residential Center and the Lauderdale County Mental Health Association

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health is partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to launch “What a Difference a Friend Makes,” a campaign designed not only to change public attitude about mental illness, but also to encourage young adults to support their friends who are living with mental health problems.

“There are so many myths about mental illness, which is a disease that is surprisingly common, according to many studies,” Stamm said.

In fact, mental health problems affect most families in America at some point. Studies also show that most people with mental illness get better, with many experiencing a complete recovery.

However, stigma is a major barrier to recovery.

“Shame and blame often surrounds mental health problems,” Stamm said. And that fear is a major problem in itself.

As one of five state-run psychiatric facilities, East Mississippi State Hospital provides quality treatment through programs for adult and adolescent psychiatric care, adult male and adolescent chemical dependency, intermediate care, continuing care, nursing home care and community services.



History



On March 8, 1882, the Mississippi legislature passed a bill enabling legislation to establish the East Mississippi Insane Asylum with a bed capacity for 250 patients.

The citizens of Meridian donated 560 acres of land to persuade the Building Commission to locate the facility in Meridian. The proposal was accepted and an appropriation of $50,000 was made for construction.

East Mississippi State Hospital has been located on the same site since that time. The first patient on record was a 19-year-old man from Meridian.

Throughout the years, EMSH has undergone many changes to improve the quality of life of those served by the facility. With visionary direction from state mental health officials, leadership from 16 hospital directors and the support of the Mississippi Legislature, the hospital has become a quality treatment facility serving 31 of the state’s 82 counties.



The future



As EMSH moves toward the future, the tradition of excellence in the delivery of quality mental health treatment for the citizens of Mississippi will continue to be the ultimate goal of administration, Stamm said.

“We are proud of the accomplishments that have been made in recent years at the hospital,” Carlisle said. “But we realize that they would not have been possible without the efforts of those who preceded us. With visionary leadership at the Department of Mental Health and continued Legislative support, we are looking forward to the future.”

A new addition and two building projects are part of that future.

A newly constructed group home is scheduled to open in upcoming weeks. Also, construction is set to begin at the end of the year for a new laundry and cafeteria.

The laundry will be built on the hospital main campus and will be environmentalized.

“The current laundry room doesn’t have air conditioning, which can be extremely hot in the summer,” Stamm said.

The laundry also will include state-of-the-art equipment for increased efficiency. Cost of the project is $2.5 million.

The new $5 million hospital cafeteria will be slightly larger than the current one and will also feature state-of-the-art equipment, as well as a staff dining area, Stamm said. The old cafeteria will be renovated and used for Professional Development.

“We are excited about the new construction projects we have planned for the coming year,” Carlisle said. “With the opening of the new group home in Kemper County and a new laundry and dietary building on the hospital main campus, we will continue to carry on the tradition of providing quality mental health services.”



125 years ...

and counting



East Mississippi State Hospital’s 125th anniversary celebration also will feature a golf tournament to benefit the EMSH Friends, an organization which sponsors, finances and supports projects and activities that benefit the hospital, its patients and employees.

“The primary goal of EMSH Friends is to educate the general public about mental illness and the needs of the mental ill,” Stamm said. “The organization also promotes the programs of East Mississippi State Hospital.”

EMSH Friends’ membership includes family members and friends of patients, business and professional people, civic and service groups as well as hospital employees.

The quasquicentennial celebration also will mark the opening of an on-campus museum.

“The museum will be located in one of the older buildings on campus,” Stamm said. “It will open on the day of the quasquicentennial program for the general public to view artifacts and memorabilia depicting the hospital’s evolution.”

Stamm is making a public appeal for artifacts — papers, document or other items related to the hospital.

“We’re asking employees (current and former) or anyone in the community with memorabilia they would like to let us borrow for the day of the quasquicentennial celebration or to donate to the museum to contact us,” she said.

The hospital administration is also seeking to locate the oldest living former employee of EMSH.

“We would like to give them special recognition at the ceremony on May 30,” Stamm said.

SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES

Here is a list of activities to celebrate East Mississippi State Hospital’s 125th year anniversary. For more information, contact Betty Moffett Stamm, EMSH public relations director, at (601) 481-1241:

May 2 — Spring Fling Blues Festival and Barbecue Cookoff Competition, EMSH campus. Employees will compete and

residents will get to enjoy their creations.

May 4 — Meridian Open Golf Classic, 1 p.m., Ponta Creek Golf Course at NAS Meridian. Proceeds to benefit East

Mississippi State Hospital Friends Organization. The deadline for registration is April 27. For more information, contact Phil Jenkins at (601) 481-1231 or by e-mail: pjenkins@emsh.state.ms.us

May 30 — Quasquicentennial Program, 2 p.m., EMSH campus. Celebration will include the opening of the EMSH Museum.

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