2008 News Releases

For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 573-751-8135

Support Systems Can Help People Deal with Holiday Stress (12-18)

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – The stress of the holiday season can add to pressures that some people already feel, and it can affect their physical and mental health. Officials with the Department of Mental Health urge families, friends and co-workers to support each other during this time of year.

“While this time of year is full of activities focused on celebrations of friends and family, the reality is that the season does not make problems go away,” said Joe Parks, M.D., Director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services for the Department of Mental health. “This time of year can raise the level of stress that some people feel.”

Financial strain may be causing people additional stress during this holiday season. Financial constraints may not allow families to provide the type of holiday celebration they are accustomed to, which may contribute to depression and feelings of anxiety.

Dr. Parks said some people may fall into depression during the holiday season. The natural support systems of co-workers, family and friends should not hesitate to talk to someone who appears depressed or stressed out.

“Each of us has the potential to make a difference for people we know simply by reaching out and offering our support if we think that someone needs help,” Parks said.

Resources available for persons who my need help include:

Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255)

Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 800-392-3738

Mental Health Crisis: If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the Access Crisis Intervention (ACI) hotline closest to your home. The numbers the regions are available at www.dmh.mo.gov/crisis.htm.

For more information contact, Bob Bax at 573-751-8033

Program provides mental health care for families of veterans (12/12)

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt announced that the Department of Mental Health has initiated Help for the Home Front (HHF), which is a program that focuses on helping those who live with a veteran who has served in the Global War on Terror. The department received $650,000 from the legislature and Gov. Blunt in the 2009 fiscal year budget to develop the program.

“My Administration has been committed to addressing all the needs of our returning veterans and their families,” Gov. Blunt said. “We owe our gratitude to all of the patriotic men and women who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces defending our freedom and values. Making these resources and support available to the families of returning veterans who need them will help make the transition easier.”

The primary goal of HHF is to assist family members, such as spouses, children, parents and grandparents of veterans during their return from deployment. Veterans themselves are served by the Veterans Administration. However, veterans will be able to participate in any family or marital therapy with the family member through the HHF program.

“Oftentimes, family members are overlooked in dealing with the anxiety and other issues that occur with returning veterans,” said Dr. Joe Parks, director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services. “This program will provide resources and support for family members of returning veterans which will ease in the transition process.”

The Department of Mental Health administrative agents in the areas of the state with the largest population of veteran families will provide outreach services anytime there is a suicide attempt or mental health crisis once they are notified by local veterans’ contacts. Service providers will be trained in veteran and military family issues.

Additionally, there will be services offered to family members of killed or wounded veterans, and families experiencing transition issues once the veteran returns from deployment. Traditional services, such as individual or group counseling, will be provided to family members, adult or youth, where appropriate.

Administrative Agents participating in the Help for the Home Front are listed below. To access information about these providers and the areas they serve, please here.

For more information on Help for the Home Front initiative, please contact Dr. Joe Parks, Director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services, Department of Mental Health. 573-751-2794; joe.parks@dmh.mo.gov.

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For more information contact, Bob Bax at 573-751-8033

FEMA Awards Grant to Department of Mental Health

The Department of Mental Health has been awarded the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Crisis Counseling Regular Services Grant by FEMA and the Center for Mental Health Services. The grant will provide for ongoing crisis counseling assistance for individuals impacted by the June 2008 floods in St. Charles, Lincoln, Ralls and Pike Counties and is for the crisis counseling program, LifeRAFT (Rebuilding After Flood Times).

“This grant will allow us to continue providing much needed counseling and assistance to families who have been affected by flooding,” said Jenny Wiley, Coordinator of Disaster Readiness.

The grant of $429,000 will allow the Department of Mental Health to continue to work with the Crider Center, which is the community mental health center, to provide the FEMA Crisis Counseling Program. The Crider Center will be able to provide ongoing crisis counseling services for nine additional months for individuals impacted by the floods.

For more information, please contact Jenny Wiley, at jenny.wiley@dmh.mo.gov or (573) 751-4730.

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Red Ribbon Week Raises Awareness to Substance Abuse

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – This year’s nationally recognized Red Ribbon Week is October 23-31. The week is designed to raise awareness of the dangers of substance abuse. The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse encourages local involvement in substance abuse prevention efforts.

Red Ribbon Week is celebrated and recognized as the result of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Enrique Camarena’s brutal murder in 1985 by drug cartel leaders. Community members in Agent Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, California, responded by wearing red ribbons. They became a voice for prevention in reducing the demand for illegal drugs and the illegal use of legal drugs in America. The California State PTA adopted the Red Ribbon Campaign the following year. In 1988, Red Ribbon Week gained national recognition with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, serving as honorary chairs.

Today, Red Ribbon Week brings people together to raise awareness about alcohol, tobacco, drug prevention, intervention and treatment services. Red Ribbon Week is an awareness campaign. The Red Ribbon Pledge is “No use of illegal drugs, No illegal use of legal drugs.”

“Red Ribbon Week allows community members to come together in the effort to raise awareness about substance abuse,” said Mark Stringer, Director of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. “Becoming involved in substance abuse prevention is a key component in raising awareness in local communities.”

The theme for this year’s campaign is STEP IT UP: A CALL TO ACTION! This year’s theme challenges everyone to take school and community based prevention efforts to the next level by encouraging all community members and students to become involved in raising awareness.

Red Ribbon Week is one of the ways community members can pay tribute to people like Agent Camarena who gave his life in the fight against drugs.

For more information about the Division of Mental Health prevention programs, please contact Angie Stuckenschneider, Director of Prevention at (573) 751-9105 or by e-mail at Angie.Stuckenschneider@dmh.mo.gov

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Nixa Resident Serves on First State Autism Commission

[JEFFERSON CITY, MO]  The first Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders met October 22, 2008, in Jefferson City.  The Commission was created by Governor Matt Blunt upon recommendation from the Missouri Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism.  The Commission will advise and make recommendations to the Governor, General Assembly and State agencies regarding matters including healthcare, education and other adult and adolescent services as they pertain to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Tiffany Daniels is an individual with Autism who is serving on the Commission.  Daniels is a graphic artist by degree but serves at Springfield Regional Center as its Self Advocate.   She has very specific ideas about some of the issues she would like to see addressed by the Commission.  

Daniels acknowledges the importance of early intervention, but is focused on the difficulties adults with ASD are faced with.  “I would like to bring attention to the lack of adult services currently offered,” said Daniels.  “I hope there will be more programs and resources for high functioning people with Autism because we need assistance, too.”  Daniels has been appointed to the committee for a two-year term. 

The Commission is comprised of 24 members, each having a personal tie to Autism.  One of the responsibilities of the Commission is to develop systems and standards for those living with ASD.  The first meeting allowed members to give brief introductions of themselves and their interests for serving on the Commission.  Members also discussed standard setting for treatment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorders include Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).  Approximately one out of every 150 children born is diagnosed with an ASD.

For more information, please contact Bob Bax at (573) 751-8033 or contact Tiffany Daniels directly at Tiffany.Daniels@dmh.mo.gov.

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For more information contact, Bob Bax at 573-751-8033

Dexter Resident Serves on First State Autism Commission

[JEFFERSON CITY, MO]  The first Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders met October 22, 2008, in Jefferson City.  The Commission was created by Governor Matt Blunt upon recommendation from the Missouri Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism.  The Commission will advise and make recommendations to the Governor, General Assembly and State agencies regarding matters including healthcare, education and other adult and adolescent services as they pertain to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

“It is truly an honor to be a part of the first Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Missouri has taken important strides in addressing the needs of individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders,” said Julie Keathley, who is the parent of a child with Autism.  “I understand first-hand how important it is for parents to have access to early intervention resources.”

The Commission is comprised of 24 members, each having a personal tie to Autism.  One of the responsibilities of the Commission is to develop systems and standards for those living with ASD.  The first meeting allowed members to give brief introductions of themselves and their interests for serving on the Commission.  Members also discussed standard setting for treatment and diagnosis. 

Autism Spectrum Disorders include Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).  Approximately one out of every 150 children born is diagnosed with an ASD. 

For more information, please contact Bob Bax at (573) 751-8033 or contact Julie Keathley directly at juliekeathley@gmail.com.

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Department of Mental Health Awarded Youth Suicide Prevention Grant

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Missouri suicide prevention efforts received a boost recently when the Department of Mental Health was awarded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Youth Suicide Prevention Grant. The Missouri Youth Suicide Prevention Project (MYSP) will receive an award of $500,000 a year for three years.

The project will focus on providing training for individuals who have direct contact with large numbers of community members who may be considering suicide. Teachers, juvenile justice service employees, foster care parents, law enforcement agents and healthcare employees are some of the roles which will receive this training and support. One of the major functions of the MYSP Project is to provide training on the warning signs of suicide so community workers are equipped with the knowledge and resources to ask the correct questions and direct youth to the appropriate intervention services.

“We are very pleased to have this opportunity to continue our efforts to reduce and prevent suicide among Missouri’s youth,” said Scott Perkins, Project Director of the grant. “The SAMHSA grant allows us to build upon the work that has been done across the state over the last three years.”

MYSP Project will focus on reducing suicide and suicidal behaviors, specifically among youth ages 10 to 24-years-old. During the years 1999-2005, Missouri had a higher rate of suicide at 13.3 per 100,000 citizens than the national rate of 11.6. Missourians ranging in age from fifteen to 19 have the highest rate of hospitalized attempts at 13%. Increasing the number of trainers will enable those individuals in the community to accurately identify youth who are exhibiting signs of suicidal behavior.

Increasing the number of qualified trainers throughout the state of Missouri will allow more people, with direct contact to youth, the necessary resources and training to aid in the suicide prevention effort.

For more information, please contact Scott Perkins, Project Director of the Youth Suicide Prevention Grant, at (573) 751-8155 or by e-mail at Scott.Perkins@dmh.mo.gov, or Bob Bax, Director of Public Affairs at (573) 751-8033 or by e-mail at Bob.Bax@dmh.mo.gov.

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For more information contact, Debra Walker at 573-751-1647

Mental Health Reform Legislation a Positive Step

JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- The Mental Health Parity legislation passed recently by Congress as part of the economic bailout initiative represents a big step forward in the effort to break down the barriers that prevent many people from getting treatment for mental illness.

The new law will require that group health insurance plans provide the same coverage for mental health treatment that they do for the treatment of other forms of medical illnesses. Many insurance plans currently provide less coverage for mental health care by having different rates, deductibles, limits on hospital stays and outpatient visits, and lifetime coverage limits.

“This is simply an issue of fairness as it relates to health care and there are huge personal and economic costs when we don’t.” said Keith Schafer, Director of the Department of Mental Health.

Insurance parity for mental illnesses has long been a priority for mental health advocates in Missouri and around the nation. Progress has been made incrementally in many states, including Missouri, where state law requires group mental health plans to cover mental illnesses the same way they do other illnesses. Plans in Missouri are not required to cover substance abuse treatment at the same level as other treatments. The federal legislation does include substance abuse treatments.

“This is another step to ending discrimination for mental health treatments,” said the Rev. Phillip McClendon, Chair of the Missouri Mental Health Commission. “The passage of this issue is a testament to the dedication of countless mental health advocates over many years.”

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For more information contact, Bob Bax at 573-751-8033

MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION TO MEET IN JOPLIN

JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- The Missouri Mental Health Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting in Joplin on Thursday, October 9, and visit local mental health programs, including the Ozark Center for Autism.

The Rev. Phillip McClendon of Joplin is chair of the seven-member commission. He said holding the meeting locally is an opportunity for commissioners to see first-hand how mental health services are being delivered in the community.

“The need for mental health services continue to grow which makes it critical that the programs available in the community are effective and get the results people have a right to expect,” McClendon said. “Our local provider agencies do an outstanding job of delivering services and it is important that the commission and department administration see the programs and the results.”

Commissioners will tour programs in Joplin and then convene at 1:15 p.m. at Freeman Business Center, Conference Room One, 3220 McClelland Blvd., for a presentation on autism by the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

The Legislature and Governor Blunt approved $500,000 to create the intensive day treatment program at the Ozark Center in Joplin, the first of its kind in Missouri. The program aims at early identification and intervention for children with autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in every 150 children. More than 6,400 individuals with ASD received services from the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities in the twelve-month period ending June of 2008.

The commission is the principal policy advisor to the director of the Department of Mental Health. Members are appointed by the Governor with confirmation by the State Senate.

The Department of Mental Health serves about 170,000 Missourians each year, providing help for people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and substance abuse problems. The department contracts with about 1,600 local providers to serve citizens around the state, and also operates 28 facilities.

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GRANT TARGETS EARLY INTERVENTION FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., - The Missouri Department of Mental Health received the Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment (SBIRT) Grant, which will increase early intervention and treatment efforts for people at risk of substance abuse. Missouri is expected to receive $2.3 million in the first year and $12.3 million over the next five years.

SBIRT provides an immediate medical response to a key public health concern by focusing on risky or problematic use of alcohol and other drugs, including prescription drugs and tobacco, using screening and brief intervention techniques. The SBIRT initiative will provide effective methods for intervention before more extensive or specialized treatment is required.

“We are pleased to be one of four states awarded the SBIRT Grant. There is a great opportunity to increase the efforts to train front-line workers on how to recognize these problems and how to intervene,” said Mark Stringer, Director of Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. “Providing training will allow more people to be screened and intercepted before there is a need for more extensive treatment.”

For more information on the SBIRT grant, please contact Mark Stringer, Director of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, at (573) 751-7033 or Mark.Stringer@dmh.mo.gov.

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For more information contact, Bob Bax at 573-751-8033

THREE MISSOURI SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION PROGRAMS RECEIVE NATIONAL HONOR

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, SEPTEMBER 9, 2008 - Three alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs supported by the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse have been awarded the National Exemplary Award for Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices and Policies.

The three programs are: Partners in Prevention at the University of Missouri-Columbia; Promoting Responsibility through Education and Preparation (PREP), in St. Louis; and How to Cope, a program of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Kansas City. These programs were recognized at the National Prevention Network’s Annual Research Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 24-27.

Partners in Prevention serves college students; PREP serves elementary students; and How to Cope serves people affected by another person’s alcohol or drug abuse. Mark Stringer, Director of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said the three diverse programs all strive to achieve similar goals through prevention and education.

“The fact that Missouri’s programs received three of the top awards is a testament to the concerted effort to increase drug and alcohol prevention and education in our state,” Stringer said. “Each of the three programs focuses on different age ranges and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our programs aim for early education and provide resources to all individuals affected by alcohol or drug abuse.”

Missouri Partners in Prevention is a statewide coalition of twelve public universities serving more than 130,000 Missouri college students. Evaluation, funding, training, technical assistance and coalition building are among the many ways the members create positive changes on college campuses. Partners in Prevention’s mission is to create a campus, city and state environment that supports responsible decision-making regarding alcohol on Missouri’s college and university campuses.

PREP is an elementary school prevention program provided by Discovering Options, Inc., a not-for-profit organization providing substance abuse prevention programs for children and youth living in impoverished areas in St. Louis City. PREP provides after-school and mentoring services to fourth and fifth graders.

How to Cope helps individuals who are affected by another person’s drug or alcohol abuse. The participants are generally 18 years of age or older. The goals of the program are to develop understanding of alcoholism and drug addiction as a family disease and for families to recover. Ultimately, participants are given resources and skills to live healthier lifestyles.

The Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse supports treatment and prevention programs throughout the state through contracts with community agencies.

For additional information, contact:

Missouri Partners in Prevention program, contact Joan Masters, University of Missouri Wellness Center, 34 Brady Commons, Columbia, MO, 65211, phone 573-884-7551; masters@missouri.edu

PREP program, contact Charmaine Smith, Discovering Options, 909 Purdue Avenue, St. Louis, MO, 63130, phone 314-721-8116; charmaine@discoveringoptions.org

How to Cope program, contact Jean Jacobs, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 633 East 63rd St., Kansas City, MO, 64110, phone 816-361-5900; jean@ncaddkc.org

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For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-3070

U.S. SURGEON GENERAL LEADS KANSAS CITY SUICIDE PREVENTION CONFERENCE

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., SEPTEMBER 2, 2008 – United States Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., will take part in a suicide prevention conference, September 4, 2008, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City.

Dr. Galson will be joined by the Executive Director of SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) and officials from Missouri and Kansas, including Dr. Joe Parks, Director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services and the Medical Director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The conference will focus on strategies for suicide prevention through heightened exposure of media coverage and community involvement.

“Missouri is pleased to welcome Surgeon General Galson and to help highlight this important public health issue,” said Gov. Matt Blunt. “Missouri has recognized the importance of suicide prevention efforts through community education and partnerships as well as new legislation I signed to create the Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee.”

Missouri ranks 22nd in the nation in its rate of suicide deaths, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 25 to 34 year olds in Missouri. More than 800 Missourians die each year because of suicide and another 5,200 persons receive emergency care after attempting to take their own lives. In 2005, 32,637 people died by suicide in the United States.

Legislation signed by Governor Blunt in 2005 created the State Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee, which oversees the state’s suicide prevention plan. Dr. Parks said that the state plan recommends suicide prevention efforts at a local level.

“We know that many suicides are preventable,” Parks said. “Helping local communities access the information and resources to develop and provide proven interventions can save lives.”

The Department of Mental Health and Western Missouri Mental Health Center are among the co-sponsors of this event, which will also provide guidelines for leadership among the media and community spokespersons, with the goal of preventing suicides through the coverage of such events, and galvanizing community action to prevent future suicides. The target audience for the workshop is Kansas and Missouri community leaders, university and school administrators, public officials, the media, and those responsible for communicating information to the media and/or public about crisis situations involving suicide.

Information about registering for this free event is available online here.

For further information on the conference and its workshops, please contact Dr. Stanley Edlavitch, member of the Missouri Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee, at (816) 235-6617 or by e-mail at EdlavitchS@umkc.edu <mailto:EdlavitchS@umkc.edu>

Editors please note: “At-a-Glance: Safe Reporting on Suicide” is two-page guide for reporters and editors that provides a list of recommendations on how to report on suicide while minimizing the risk of contributing to "copycat" suicides. In addition to offering guidelines, this publication includes additional resources on suicide and suicide prevention for reporters, editors, and others in the media. A PDF copy is available online at: www.sprc.org/library/at_a_glance.pd

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For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-3070

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DMH CHALLENGES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FINDINGS LETTER ON NORTHWEST HABILITATION CENTER

ST. LOUIS, MO., AUGUST 21, 2008 – The Department of Mental Health (DMH) strongly challenges findings in a Department of Justice (DOJ) formal Findings Letter on the Northwest Habilitation Center (NWHC) in St. Louis soon to be officially released by DOJ. The Findings Letter was compiled by DOJ as a result of a review of the facility from August 27-29, 2007.

“The DOJ Findings Letter on the Northwest Habilitation Center contains sensational sound-bites full of inaccurate and misleading information,” said Department of Mental Health Director Keith Schafer. He also said the Findings Letter fails to reflect the changes made at the facility since May 2007.

“Like the DOJ, first and foremost, we are concerned with client care and safety. We welcome scrutiny and believe it is important to have a transparent process. We do not take this Findings Letter lightly,” Schafer said. “However, we strongly disagree with a number of the specific findings, because the facts simply don’t support the allegations.”

Among the key allegations of the Findings Letters inconsistent with the facts are:

“These are a few examples of allegations not factually represented in the Findings Letter. An examination of the facts indicates that the DOJ Findings Letter either provides inaccurate information or fails to tell the full story,” Schafer said.

In an attempt to assert that the facility is not safe, the Findings Letter indicates that the facility did not follow its own policy of conducting “Causal Analysis” within 30 days of problematic client behaviors occurring from March through July of 2007. It indicates that “no causal analysis” was done for up to four months after the incident, if at all. The facts are that Bernie Simons, Director of the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD), first officially implemented the Causal Analysis review in July 2007. Staff cannot be cited for failure to follow a policy that did not yet exist.

The Findings Letter alleges that NWHC was “over-dependent” on mechanical restraints to control client behavior. It indicates that the facility’s use of restraints “rose more than 500 percent from June 2006 to July 2007.” The facts are that the average monthly number of restraints used at the facility from June 2006 through May 2007 ranged from 0 to 6. However, restraints jumped to 33 and 35 incidents respectively in the months of June and July 2007, with 30 and 31 respectively consisting of mitts on the hands of a single client who kept trying to remove his Gastrostomy feeding tube. The client no longer requires the feeding tube as a result of this appropriate two-month intervention.

The DOJ review was prompted by the deaths of two clients at the facility in November, 2005, and March, 2006. There were 69 clients at the facility during the two day period of the DOJ review. The Center currently serves 68 clients.

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Three Attachments below: Guardian Consent NWHC Restraint Use Tables

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For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-8033

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

McCLENDON ELECTED TO CHAIR MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., JULY 16, 2008 – Phillip W. McClendon of Joplin is the new chairperson of the Missouri Mental Health Commission. McClendon assumed the chairmanship duties at the Commission’s July meeting, following his election by other commission members.

“We have an opportunity to move mental health forward for the thousands of Missourians who need help with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and substance abuse,” said McClendon, who was appointed to the seven-member commission in 2005. “We will work to build support for increasing access to mental health services and for developing prevention and early intervention efforts. These are two of the critical challenges facing the Department of Mental Health.”

The Rev. McClendon is the senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Joplin. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Cumberland College, a master of divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a doctorate of ministry degree (D. Min.) from Luther Rice Seminary. He has served as president of the Pastor’s Conference of the Missouri Baptist Convention. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of Directors of the Ozark Center, the Ozarks Advisory Committee of the Community Blood Center, and the Advisory Board of Christians for World Peace.

McClendon takes over the chairmanship of the commission from Ron Dittemore, Ed.D., of St. Joseph. The commission re-elected Beth Viviano of St. Louis as its secretary. Other commission members include Dr. David Vlach of Kansas City, Kathy Carter of Four Seasons, Dr. Patricia Bolster of Creve Coeur, and Joann Leykam of St. Charles.

The Mental Health Commission serves as the principal policy advisor to the Director of the Department of Mental Health. Members are appointed by the Governor with confirmation by the State Senate.

The Department of Mental Health serves approximately 170,000 Missourians each year, providing help for persons with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse problems. The department employs about 8,700 staff, operates 28 facilities, and contracts with thousands of local providers to serve citizens throughout the state.

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For more information, contact Scott Perkins, 573-751-8155

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUICIDE PREVENTION CONFERENCE PUTS FOCUS ON TRAINING

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., JULY 10, 2008 – Preventing suicide is the focus of a statewide conference and a special workshop to be held in Jefferson City, July 14-16. “Show Me You Care About Suicide Prevention” is the theme for the third annual conference set for July 14 at the Truman Hotel. A two-day training workshop on suicide prevention will be held July 15-16, also at Truman Hotel.

“Suicide impacts all segments of our society. Raising awareness of the warning signs and informing our citizens about outreach, intervention, and referral are important tools in the effort to prevent this needless tragedy,” said Governor Matt Blunt.

Governor Blunt signed legislation in 2005 creating the State Suicide Prevention Committee. The committee oversees the State Suicide Prevention Plan that focuses on assisting local communities in developing initiatives to address suicide. Suicide and non-fatal suicidal behaviors, ranging from gestures to suicide attempts, are far more common than most people think. Almost everyone will come into contact with suicidal behaviors in some significant way during their lives.

Missouri ranks 22nd in the nation in its rate of suicide deaths, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 25- to 34-year-olds in Missouri. Suicide ranks in the top four leading causes of death for Missourians between the ages of 15 to 54. More than 800 Missourians die each year because of suicide and another 5,200 persons receive emergency care after attempting to take their own lives. The state suicide rate of 12.5 per 100,000 citizens is higher than the national rate of 11.0.

“Suicide is a serious public health issue for our state,” said Dr. Joe Parks, Medical Director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health. “Many suicides are preventable. Building partnerships with local communities and providing the resources to develop proven interventions can save lives.”

Participants at both the conference and the two-day workshop will learn how to recognize persons who might be at risk. The major indicators of the possibility of suicide, according to experts, are sudden changes in behavior or personality; feelings of desperation, helplessness, hopelessness, aloneness, loss, and depression; a previous suicide attempt; and, most importantly, suicide statements expressing a desire or intention to die. One of the most important first-aid skills to have, Parks said, is to ask directly about the suicide intentions of someone you are worried about.

The July 14 conference is co-sponsored by Lincoln University, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, and the Department of Mental Health.

Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., Lincoln University, and the Department of Mental Health are sponsoring the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop for conference participants or others interested in providing “emergency first aid” to prevent suicide.

Staff of the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project encourages organizations across the state to consider providing suicide prevention training for their members or employees. Anyone interested in scheduling training should contact their Regional Resource Center or DMH at (573) 751-8155. The staff also encourages persons struggling with thoughts of suicide to contact a local mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Information about the conference and the workshop, including registration information, is available online here.

Editors please note: “At-a-Glance: Safe Reporting on Suicide” is two-page guide for reporters and editors that provides a list of recommendations on how to report on suicide while minimizing the risk of contributing to "copycat" suicides. In addition to offering guidelines, this publication includes additional resources on suicide and suicide prevention for reporters, editors, and others in the media. A PDF copy is available online at: http://www.sprc.org/library/at_a_glance.pdf

Additional information for the media, including the full text of the document “Reporting on Suicide: Recommendations for the Media,” can be accessed from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website at: www.sprc.org/featured_resources/customized/media.asp

For additional information on suicide, visit the Department of Mental Health’s web site.

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Missouri Mental Health Transformation Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact: Susan Flanigan 573.526.3702

Transformation group announces Missouri’s Mental Health Show Me Series

Jefferson City, MO, June 19, 2008 --The Governor’s Mental Health Transformation Working Group (TWG), in partnership with the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH), has announce innovative programs available through their inaugural Mental Health Show Me Series. The 2008 Show Me Series is promoting RESPECT Seminars, Mental Health First Aid, and Procovery in Missouri.

“The Mental Health Show Me Series offers programs designed to improve public knowledge, eliminate stigma, and empower people to move their lives forward regardless of their illness or disability,” said Diane McFarland, chair of the TWG.

Because Missouri is one of nine states to receive federal funding from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to transform the state’s mental health delivery system, most programs will be offered throughout Missouri in 2008.

“Mental Health Transformation is about improving Missouri’s mental health system through innovation and collaboration. DMH worked with the TWG to ensure the Show Me Series provides relevant programs and information for all Missourians,” says McFarland.

“We are pleased with the initial public response to the RESPECT Seminars and Procovery programs,” explains Keith Schafer, DMH Director. “Based upon the work of the planning team, we know Mental Health First Aid will be well-received when it is rolled out later this year.”

Brief program descriptions are provided. For additional details and regular updates on the Mental Health Show Me Series, visit Missouri’s Mental Health Transformation Website:

Show Me RESPECT

Creating Communities of Hope begins with RESPECT. Joel Slack, founder of Respect International, LLC, developed the RESPECT Seminar to promote the powerful impact that respect (and disrespect) has on a person recovering from a psychiatric disability. Joel presents personal experiences and shows that RESPECT impacts all of us in our daily lives. His message is relevant to anyone interested in gaining a consumer’s perspective regarding mental health and the relationship between service provider and patient. Free public seminars are scheduled throughout Missouri in summer 2008. In addition, Joel will be offering training later this year through the RESPECT Institute, a five-day training program designed to teach consumers how to share their own personal stories to educate others.

Mental Health First Aid: Show Me How

Most Missourians understand first aid and what to do if someone is choking, not breathing or exhibiting signs of another health emergency. However, few people know basic interventions if they encounter a person experiencing a mental health emergency even though they are likely to encounter such situations as well. InAustralia, Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm developed Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to teach basic first aid interventions for common mental health problems such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, substance use disorder, or a crisis situation such as suicidal behavior, post trauma distress, drug overdose, panic attack, and the like. Participants in a MHFA course demonstrated improved confidence in providing initial help, increased help given, and reduced stigma regarding mental health disorders resulting in international adoption and adaptation. Missouri is working collaboratively with a team from Maryland and the National Council of Community Behavioral Healthcare to launch the American version of Mental Health First Aid. Missouri is converting the youth manual for use in this country while Maryland is focusing on “Americanizing” the adult manual. The National Council is taking the lead on training and marketing. The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will help evaluate the initial roll-out. Missouri is currently seeking national trainers to certify persons interested in becoming local instructors for Mental Health First Aid: Show Me How. MHFA training will be available in Missouri in the fall of 2008 and groups are encouraged to organize a local MHFA course.

Show Me Procovery

Moving one’s life forward regardless of the individual’s illness or disability is the essence of Procovery. Its key to success is to “Just Start Anywhere!” Developed by Kathleen Crowley, author and executive director of the Procovery Institute, Procovery emphasizes a hope-centered, forward-focused, and skills-based partnership of the client, the family, the service provider, and the community. It includes eight principles for resilience in healing, 12 strategies for action, and a highly structured system, known as the Procovery Circle, for group training and support. Procovery Circles are led by licensed facilitators and designed for consumers as well as families, professionals and members of the community. In 2006, Missouri piloted Procovery through the DMH Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services in partnership with the Procovery Institute. The initial pilot was targeted to evaluate eight to 12 adult circles in a rural and urban community. The demand for Procovery Circles across the state across settings and age groups was so high that the pilot resulted in the creation of over 80 circles. Evaluation of the pilot resulted in more than a year-long effort to establish the infrastructure (training, licensing, facilitator support, and data collection) to begin statewide expansion to meet the high demand. Expansion has now begun with an initial set of basic and facilitator trainings scheduled April through June 2008. Visit the Procovery website at http://www.procovery.com and click on the “Show Me Procovery” license plate to find out what’s happening in Missouri.

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Funded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration via grant number 6 U79 SM57474-01-1, the Mental Health Show Me Series is part of Missouri’s Mental Health Transformation Initiative to implement key goals and objectives contained in Missouri’s first Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health. Click here for more information on the Show Me Series, Transformation Initiative or information related to other educational programs, support groups, etc.

For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-8033  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MENTAL HEALTH CHAMPIONS HONORED

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., APRIL 17, 2008 – Three individuals were honored Wednesday as Missouri’s first-ever Mental Health Champions at a celebration in Jefferson City attended by more than 350 mental health consumers, advocates, providers, and other supporters.

The three represent the thousands of Missourians who have overcome personal challenges of mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse issues and whose efforts have made life better for others and their communities. They were selected from nominations from around the state.

Nan Chamberlain of Mexico overcame her battle with bipolar disorder, earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri, and works at a local community mental health center helping others overcome the challenges of mental illness.

Dan LaLone of Springfield, physically disabled since birth, was the driving force for the creation of “Sassafrass,” a fully accessible apartment complex for people needing mobile accommodations. Sassafrass is located in Springfield.

Theresa Taylor of Cape Girardeau overcame her experiences with drug addiction and homelessness to establish “Vision House,” a faith-based transitional living center for homeless women with alcohol and other drug addictions. Vision House is located in Cape Girardeau.

Video tributes of the three Mental Health Champions were shown at the banquet held at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.

 “These are individuals who inspire others,” said Keith Schafer, director of the Department of Mental Health. “For years I have seen firsthand many inspiring stories of people doing exceptional things, despite having a mental illness, a developmental disability or a substance abuse problem.  This recognition is long overdue. If we are to break down the stigma that affects the people we serve, I believe we have to bring their many contributions to the forefront.”

Two individuals also were honored at the banquet with the “Lasting Legacy” award for their lifetime contributions to mental health.

Dr. George Ulett of St. Louis served as director of the Missouri Division of Mental Diseases (later known as the Missouri Department of Mental Health) from 1961 to 1971, building the program into a national leader in mental health services. The late Dr. Henry Guhleman of Jefferson City was the first director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services in the department. Dr. Guhleman worked for more than 30 years to enhance Missouri’s mental health services.

“Dr. Ulett and Dr.Guhleman were true mental health pioneers,” Schafer said. “Their legacy is a mental health system that today makes it possible for individuals to become Mental Health Champions.”

The banquet was sponsored by the Missouri Mental Health Foundation and the Department of Mental Health.

For more information on the Mental Health Champions and Lasting Legacy honorees, please contact Bob Bax at the Department of Mental Health, 573-751-8033.

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For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-8033

MEDIA ADVISORY - April 15, 2008

MENTAL HEALTH CHAMPIONS HONORED IN JEFFERSON CITY

WHAT: The Missouri Mental Health Foundation and the Department of Mental Health will recognize three individuals as Mental Health Champions at a banquet in Jefferson City, April 16, 2008. The three champions include an individual with a mental illness, an individual with a developmental disability, and an individual in recovery from substance abuse. Each has overcome personal challenges and their accomplishments have made life better for others and for their communities. Video tributes of their inspiring stories will be shown at the banquet.

“These are individuals who inspire others,” said Keith Schafer, director of the Department of Mental Health. “For years I have seen firsthand many inspiring stories of people doing exceptional things, despite having a mental illness, developmental disability, or substance abuse problem. This recognition is long overdue. If we are to break down the stigma that affects the people we serve, I believe we have to bring their many contributions to the forefront.”

Two individuals also will be honored with the “Lasting Legacy Award” for their lifetime contribution to mental health.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 16, 2008. Reception at 5:30 p.m.; Dinner at 6:30 p.m.; Awards Presentations at 7:15 p.m.

WHERE: Capital Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.

WHO: Mental Health Champion, Nan Chamberlain, Mexico

Mental Health Champion, Dan LaLone, Springfield

Mental Health Champion, Theresa Taylor, Cape Girardeau

Lasting Legacy Award, the late Dr. Henry Guhleman, Jefferson City

Lasting Legacy Award, Dr. George Ulett, St. Louis

To attend the banquet, interview Champions, or for more information, please contact Bob Bax at the Department of Mental Health, 573-751-8033.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact Donna Lacy, 573-751-4423

DIRECTOR’S CREATIVITY SHOWCASE ON DISPLAY AT THE STATE CAPITOL

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., March 26, 2008 – The Director’s Creativity Showcase has returned to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) after a three-year absence.  A sampling of artwork created by people receiving services from the department will be displayed in the Missouri State Capitol, 3rd floor Rotunda, from March 26-28. 

The artwork was created as part of therapy or for recreation by people receiving services for developmental disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse.  The art represents a wide range of ages and abilities.  Selections for the traveling exhibit were based on giving the public an idea of the talents represented by these artists. 

The entire exhibit is scheduled for display at the 2008 Mental Health Champions Awards Banquet in Jefferson City, at the Capitol Plaza – April 16.

 The Department of Mental Health serves Missourians by working to prevent mental disorders, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse.  The department treats, habilitates, and rehabilitates persons with these conditions and educates the public about mental illness.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact Donna Lacy, 573-751-4423

MENTAL HEALTH DIRECTOR’S CREATIVITY SHOWCASE TO BE DISPLAYED AT HEARTLAND REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MARCH 10,  2008– The Director’s Creativity Showcase has returned to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) after a three-year absence.  A sampling of artwork created by people receiving services from the department will be displayed at Heartland Regional Medical Center, 5325 Faraon, from March 10- 21.  

The artwork was created as part of therapy or for recreation by people receiving services for developmental disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse.  The art represents a wide range of ages and abilities.  Selections for the traveling exhibit were based on giving the public an idea of the talents represented by these artists. 

The exhibit is scheduled for the State Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City – March 26-27; and at the 2008 Mental Health Champions Awards Banquet in Jefferson City– April 16.

The Department of Mental Health serves Missourians by working to prevent mental disorders, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse.  The department treats, habilitates, and rehabilitates persons with these conditions and educates the public about mental health issues.

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For more information, contact Donna Lacy, 573-751-4423

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FULTON STATE HOSPITALTO DISPLAY THE DIRECTOR’S CREATIVITY SHOWCASE

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., February 21, 2008 – The Director’s Creativity Showcase has returned to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) after a three-year absence.  A sampling of artwork created by people receiving services from the department will be displayed in Fulton at the State Hospital from February 21- March 6.

The artwork was created as part of therapy or for recreation by people receiving services for developmental disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse.  The art represent a wide range of ages and abilities.  Selections for the traveling exhibit were based on giving the public an idea of the talents represented by these artists. 

The exhibit is scheduled for Heartland Health Hospital, St. Joseph – March 10-2 ; State Capitol Rotunda – March 26-27; and at the 2008 Mental Health Champions Awards Banquet – April 16 in Jefferson City.

 The Department of Mental Health serves Missourians by working to prevent mental disorders, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse.  The department treats, habilitates, and rehabilitates persons with these conditions and educates the public about mental illness.

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For more information, contact Donna Lacy, 573-751-4423

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DIRECTOR'S CREATIVITY SHOWCASE ON DISPLAY IN FARMINGTON

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., FEBRUARY 1, 2008 – The Director’s Creativity Showcase has returned to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) after a three-year absence.  A sampling of artwork created by people receiving services from the department will be displayed in Farmington at the St. Francois County Library, 108 Harrison, from February 4–9.   Library hours are Monday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; closed on Sunday.

The artwork was created as part of therapy or for recreation by people receiving services for developmental disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse.  The art represents a wide range of ages and abilities.  Selections for the traveling exhibit were based on giving the public an idea of the talents represented by these artists. 

The exhibit is scheduled for Fulton State Hospital, February 25 - March 6; Heartland Health Hospital, St. Joseph – March 10-21 ; State Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City – March 26-27; and at the 2008 Mental Health Champions Awards Banquet in Jefferson City– April 16.

The Department of Mental Health serves Missourians by working to prevent mental disorders, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse.  The department treats, habilitates, and rehabilitates persons with these conditions and educates the public about mental illness.

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For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-8033

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DMH DIRECTOR TO VISIT SEMMHC AS PART OF “CAPITAL FOR A DAY”

FARMINGTON, MO., FEBRUARY 1, 2008 – Department of Mental Health officials today will visit patients and staff at Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center (SEMMHC) as part of Governor Matt Blunt’s “Capital For a Day” initiative.

The 162-bed hospital provides residential as well as acute-care mental health services for the Southeast Missouri region. The hospital includes a special unit to serve persons who have both a mental illness and a developmental disability.

“Patients who are mentally ill and developmentally disabled need specialized services. Southeast is doing impressive work in caring for a wide variety of patients, and especially those who are dually diagnosed with both mental illnesses and developmental disabilities,” said Department of Mental Health Director Keith Schafer.

“Clearly, Karen Adams and Melissa Ring and their administrative team, along with the clinicians and direct-care staff at SEMMHC, are doing an outstanding job,” Schafer added. “They are consistently among our best programs in the state. It is always an honor and learning experience for me to visit them. I wish all Missourians had an opportunity to personally see their work.”

Capital for A Day is an opportunity to make state government more responsive and accessible for the people of Missouri. Governor Blunt and his State Department Directors will be in at the Farmington City Hall, starting at noon today, to hear from citizens on their concerns and suggestions about state services. Citizens will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with state officials.

Dr. Melissa Ring is the Chief Operating Officer for SEMMHC. Karen Adams is the Regional Executive Officer for the Southeast Missouri Region.

The Department of Mental Health serves Missourians by working to prevent mental disorders, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse; by treating, habilitating, and rehabilitating persons with those conditions; and by educating the public about mental health.

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For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-8033

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DMH CONTINUES WITH PLAN FOR 52-BED FACILITY AT BELLEFONTAINE

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., JANUARY 25, 2008 -- Keith Schafer, Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH), announced today that he will immediately proceed with a request to the Missouri Office of Administration-Division of Facilities Management for construction of a new 52-bed state-operated ICF/MR facility on the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center (BHC) campus, with a targeted completion date no later than March 1, 2010.

Schafer also indicated that DMH’s Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD) has determined through its evaluation of bids received from the state’s recent Request For Proposals entitled “Community Transition for BHC” that it will not award any contracts due to ICF/MR operational and quality concerns related to the responsive bidders.

Instead, MRDD will assess the individual housing and treatment needs of each Bellefontaine resident and offer personalized services accordingly. When community living is appropriate for a resident, MRDD will aggressively pursue other methods of developing community housing and service options tailored to individual needs.

Schafer also indicated that he will work closely with legislative leaders to enact legislation and obtain the resources necessary in the FY 2009 budget to provide quality assurance monitoring of community programs comparable to monitoring of state habilitation centers. Such legislation will be introduced in the Senate by Senators Gary Nodler and Tim Green, with a companion bill in the House sponsored by Representatives David Sater and Gina Walsh.

To enforce the recommendations of the proposed legislation, Governor Matt Blunt has proposed the addition of over 100 new community quality assurance staff statewide in his FY 2009 budget recommendations for DMH. Schafer believes these combined proposals, if passed by the Legislature, will greatly strengthen DMH’s capability for monitoring the quality and safety of consumers in MRDD community services.

Finally, Schafer announced that DMH will proceed as scheduled with a reduction of 125 FTE (full-time equivalency) positions at Bellefontaine to attain workforce levels commensurate with the current BHC census. Bellefontaine is significantly overstaffed compared to all other state habilitation centers, as BHC staff reductions have not kept pace with reduction in residents at the facility. The staff reductions had been scheduled to coincide with implementation of community transitions contracts that would have allowed providers to give BHC staff continuing opportunities for employment. Since no contracts were awarded, those options will no longer be available.

Schafer indicated that DMH will provide all assistance at its disposal to help those employees who will be subject to the layoffs, including employment counseling and job fairs held on the BHC campus, as well as support from the Department of Economic Development, Division of Workforce Development, regarding their employment needs and opportunities. He expressed deep regret over the impact of the layoffs on affected BHC staff and their families.

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SPAC LogoMissouri Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee

Missouri Department of Mental Health
P.O. Box 687, 1706 E. Elm St. • Jefferson City, MO 65102
800-364-9687 (toll-free) • 573-751-4122 • 573-751-7815 (fax)

January 14, 2008

Dear Editor:

The Missouri Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee is a governor-appointed committee charged with promoting suicide prevention efforts throughout the state. Recognizing the importance of responsible coverage of suicide in the media, the Committee plans to honor newspapers in Missouri that meet established criteria for media coverage of suicide at its annual conference in the fall of 2008. The committee will monitor media coverage from January to June of 2008.

Several sets of reporting guidelines have been developed by various national suicide prevention organizations. In summary, these guidelines recommend avoiding:

However, to ensure positive outcomes, these guidelines recommend including:

In evaluating media coverage, the Committee will use guidelines established by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that can be downloaded from http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=7852EBBC-9FB2-6691-54125A1AD4221E49. A Fact Sheet can also be downloaded at http://www.suicidology.org/associations/1045/files/AtAGlance.pdf

We hope this information will be useful to your newspapers as you cover suicide and suicide prevention in the coming year. If you find that you need background information or other assistance on this topic, you may contact suicide prevention staff via e-mail at MoSPP@dmh.mo.gov

Sincerely,

Dottie Mullikin, Chair

Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee

For more information, contact Bob Bax, 573-751-8033

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DMH IMPLEMENTING NEW COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT PROGRAM

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., JANUARY 7, 2008 ­­ The Department of Mental Health (DMH) has awarded funding for an innovative, specialized approach to serving people with mental illnesses, for whom traditional care has not been effective.

"We must be innovative in seeking new approaches to meet the mental health needs of Missourians," Gov. Matt Blunt said. "Assertive Community Treatment will help those Missourians address their mental health needs who have not responded to traditional treatment."

Assertive Community Treatment, or ACT, is a method of service that utilizes community teams to provide intensive services to people with the most serious and persistent mental illnesses and who often have not responded to traditional care. Assertive Community Treatment is characterized by low staff-to-client ratios (1-10), and a total team approach where all team members work with the clients, and nearly all services are provided in the community rather than in staff offices.

"It is a new approach to mental health services in Missouri and we are fortunate to benefit from the years of experience in other states," said Joe Parks, M. D., Director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services in the Department of Mental Health. "These Missourians are hard to reach and to keep in treatment. They are among the most challenging in our system."

"ACT has been shown to be effective for people with particular diagnoses, such as Schizophrenia and Bi-polar disorder, who often experience co-occurring chemical health problems, other medical conditions, and who are sometimes homeless," Parks said.

Funding for the new program is part of the DMH appropriations approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Blunt. The approximately $1.8 million state funding, combined with federal funds and local resources, will provide mental health services and supports for about 400 people.

Assertive Community Treatment will be operated in St. Louis by BJC Healthcare, working with Community Alternatives, St. Patrick's Center, and Places for People; in Kansas City by Truman Behavioral Health; in Springfield by Burrell Behavioral Health; and in St. Joseph by Family Guidance Center. The teams will commence implementation in the first part of 2008. Assertive Community Treatment teams include a full array of professional staff working together for the benefit of the client. Team members include a psychiatrist, nurse, specialists in employment and substance abuse, a peer specialist, and case managers.

Parks said the Assertive Community Treatment method has been researched for many years with specific types of mental illnesses, and has been used in many states and abroad. Assertive Community Treatment was originally developed in Madison, Wisconsin, when professionals decided to try a new way of helping people with serious mental illnesses remain stable in the community. The method has been proven to reduce hospital days and increase recovery, if done according to research guidelines.

Assertive Community Treatment is one of several Evidence Based Practices that Missouri is pursuing, and working together with the Missouri Mental Health Transformation Grant aimed at making fundamental changes in the state's mental health service delivery system.

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