Moultrie Observer

Local News

February 16, 2012

Lack of mental health service drives women to Serenity House

MOULTRIE — Law enforcement and hospital officials previously have discussed how the closing of a mental health facility has impacted their operations.

Now a domestic abuse shelter said that the lack of service here is being felt in the number of people seeking protection.

That issue, drugs and the economy are driving some of the admissions to Serenity House, Director Blue Hackle said.

Hackle said she has noticed more women needing transportation to clinics to get medication for mental health issues since Georgia Pines Community Services closed its clinic in Moultrie.

The agency closed the Main Street facility in August 2009, citing steep budget cuts from the state. It has maintained home visitation services, but clients who previously picked up prescriptions and received counseling in Moultrie now have to travel either to Pelham or Thomasville.

Hackle said that those without transportation for mental health care can end up in the shelter, even if the victim is the person who is off a medication schedule. In some cases, both members of the household are receiving mental health services.

“These people are struggling to get out of town to get these mental health services,” she said. “Tempers are flaring if people can’t get the drugs they need to control (their condition).

“We’re seeing more and more people who have been without medicine for different lengths of time. That affects the way they interact with their spouses.”

Drugs also contribute to people seeking to get out of abusive situations.

“A lot of the women do say drugs is the reason why they’re here,” Hackle said. “Alcohol is another reason why they’re here.”

The economy also plays a role in admissions to the shelter, which opened in May 2002.

“The less they have to fight over, it seems the more they fight over it,” Hackle said. “The unemployment rate is getting better, but it’s still really hard for people to find a job.

“If our women don’t get day care assistance, the ones we have dealt with, they don’t make enough money to pay their day care.”

The mental health situation has “definitely” played a role in arrests in domestic violence cases, Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Julius Cox said.

However, it would be impossible to put a number on those instances, he said.

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