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LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — While high-profile shootings have put renewed attention on mental health issues nationwide, the head of one of the region’s largest mental health services says the concern can just as easily be raised here in Northeast Mississippi.

Community Counseling Services handled almost 5,000 cases in its service area last year. And in Lowndes County alone, as many as 15,000 people likely will have some kind of mental health issue in their lifetime. That’s based on national statistics that one in four people will suffer a mental health diagnosis in their lifetime.

And increasingly, the agency is seeing more and more kids with mental health issues ranging from depression to psychosis. That included more than 500 students in Columbus and Lowndes County schools last year.

The costs to society are very real says Lina Beale, director of the Community Counseling’s Lowndes County Coordinator Lina Beale says.

“It’s estimated that last year there was about 479 billion lost in work productivity as a result of mental health illnesses. This was about 15 percent of all diseases in the United States, even more than cancer,” Beale told Lowndes County supervisors today in an annual report that is required by law.

Community Counseling its asking local governments to increase funding to help cover the growing demand for services.

Lowndes County has provided the same $81,700 annual funding for the last 30 years.

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