Missing woman's death raises fresh concerns over lack of capital area mental health resources

Missing woman's death raises fresh concerns over lack of capital area mental health resources
Mental health resources are scarce in the Capital City (Source: WAFB)
Mental health resources are scarce in the Capital City (Source: WAFB)
Yvette Nettles (Source: BRPD)
Yvette Nettles (Source: BRPD)
Sonnee Stanley, clinical director with LSF Solutions for Families (Source: WAFB)
Sonnee Stanley, clinical director with LSF Solutions for Families (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One day after a shocking discovery near Southern University, the Baton Rouge Police Department has identified the body found Tuesday afternoon as 52-year-old Yvette Nettles.

Nettles was reported missing a week ago. According to police, her family had been looking for her since last month. Foul play was not ruled out when she went missing, but authorities now say where the case goes next will depend on what an autopsy reveals.

While questions remain as to why the woman's body ended up in the Mississippi River and exactly how she died, one thing police are saying is that the 52-year-old had a history of mental illness. She was reportedly battling both bi-polar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.

Sonnee Stanley, clinical director with LSF Solutions for Families, is not able to speak directly to the case, but says the tragic outcome speaks directly to the need for more mental health resources in the capital area. "It's just sad, but unfortunately in Baton Rouge, we're just kind of used to it," said Stanley. "The lack of services is everywhere. It's not just in Baton Rouge or just in the inner cities or the suburbs, it's everywhere and I think just as a society we don't put enough emphasis on mental health."

Her organization makes referrals for mental health treatment and conducts home visits to keep those dealing with a mental illness on track. "We want to be able to help people do things better than how they're doing," Stanley added.

That help though is limited. Due to a lack of funding and other challenges, the group is only able to treat about 50 percent of the folks they would like to help. Those they are not able to help she says oftentimes have negative outcomes. "They tend to end up in jail or they end up in the E.R. because they're having a psychotic break and then they're back on the streets," she added.

While details of the case are not yet known, Stanley offers her prayers for the family involved and says it's vital that something be done to take care of an often under-served section of our community.

"We just need to wake up. People have mental health issues and just because you have mental health needs does not mean that you're crazy," Stanley said. "We all have things that we struggle with."

The East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office says they still have to conduct additional tests before they are able to release a full report.

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