2012 News Releases

DMH Employee Receives November State Employee of the Month Award

Rachel Roberts, Higginsville Habilitation Center

Rachel Roberts does an outstanding job as a Custodial Worker for the Higginsville Habilitation Center. But what she did recently to earn the DMH Employee of the Month for September, 2012, and subsequently November State Employee of the Month, did not directly involve her day to day work duties.

Rachel recently helped with a situation involving one of the Individualized Supported Living (ISL) programs at Higginsville. While driving her personal car home from work, she came upon one of the ISL clients with a staff on the side of the road. She stopped and asked if they needed help and soon learned that the client was having a “behavioral episode”. Since the staff was by themselves and she realized they needed her assistance, she stayed with the staff and calmed the person down until further assistance arrived and both staff and the client were safe. She used her skills that she had learned from previous “Tools” training.

“Rachel is the type of employee that no matter what department she is in, she cares deeply for the individuals and is always willing to lend a hand when there is help needed,” said her supervisor. “She is a very motivated person who not only has her responsibilities as a housekeeper, but also helps out where needed at the residences. She is an outstanding role model for all employees with her positive attitude, and kind heart.”

Rachel has worked for DMH for five years, all at Higginsville Habilitation Center.

Congratulations Rachel!

Rachel Roberts pic.jpg

Left to Right are George Fizer, HHC Superintendent; Rachel Roberts, DMH Employee of the Month; and; Kylene Kolkmeyer, Co-Worker/Nominator.


DMH Staff Among State Employees Honored for Creating Ongoing Processes to Enhance State Government

Staff from the Department of Mental Health were among state employees recognized Wednesday by the Office of Administration for a project to improve the health care of persons with serious mental illness. The Department of Mental Health in collaboration with the Department of Social Services, Division of MO HealthNet, received the state’s Pinnacle Award for their work on the DM 3700 Project. The prestigious award is part of the 2012 Governor's Awards for Quality and Productivity (GAQP).

The DM (Disease Management) 3700 project saves lives and reduces Medicaid costs by improving the quality of health care of Missouri HealthNet recipients with serious mental illness and multiple medical conditions. The Project was implemented in November 2010. In its first year, the data for 1,298 enrollees who had been in the program for 6 months or more indicated a savings of $3,566 per participant in annualized Medicaid costs. Under this program, the DMH’s Administrative Agents and affiliate agencies, reach out to Medicaid recipients who have a serious mental illness, but are not clients of DMH and are high-cost Medicaid recipients with chronic medical conditions. These high cost/high risk individuals are enrolled in the department’s community psychiatric rehabilitation program and are referred to a substance abuse treatment program if appropriate and receive care coordination and disease management services for both their behavioral health and medical conditions.

“If you have a family member afflicted with this combination of diseases, this project is very important to you. Your loved one will live longer and be healthier and happier,” said Keith Schafer, Director of the Department of Mental Health. “ If you are fortunate enough not to have a family member afflicted by these diseases, this project is very important to you. It can reduce Missouri’s health care costs significantly and is a far better way to manage your tax dollars.”

Members of the DM 3700 Project team are: Rosie Anderson-Harper (DMH); Allison Ashley (Burrell Behavioral Health); Alan Flory (Rediscover Mental Health); Rachelle Glavin (Missouri Coalition of Community Mental Health Centers); Marga Hoelscher (DSS); David Johnson (DSS); Ian McCaslin, MD (DSS) Brent McGinty (DMH); Joe Parks, MD (DMH); Tom Rehak (DMH); Paul Stuve (DSS); Tim Swinfard (Missouri Coalition of Community Mental Health Centers); Clive Woodward (DMH).

The DM 3700 was one of four state employee work teams honored at the Capitol ceremony. This marks the event's 24th year recognizing the efforts of state employee work groups, whose accomplishments serve as an example of continuous improvement, quality, and productivity in Missouri state government.

The GAQP Selection Committee consisting of senior-level executives evaluated each nomination prior to recommending each of the winning teams to Gov. Nixon for his approval. All winning nominations were required to meet clearly defined requirements relative to effectiveness, responsiveness, and efficiency that would serve as a model of excellence in state government.

In a continuing effort to improve the intent of this unique program, the nomination process was recently revised to create a new Pinnacle Award that is awarded when, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, one nomination clearly encompasses multiple award categories in a manner that exemplifies the spirit of the Governor's Award, or exceeds all other nominations.

This year, 25 nominations were submitted in four award categories: Customer Service, Efficiency/Process Improvement, Innovation, and Technology in Government.

The following contains information about each GAQP award winner:


Awarded to - State Parks Youth Corps Program - Department of Economic Development and Department of Natural Resources

The award recognizes the team that develops and successfully demonstrates an effective approach in using state resources to implement a new process or deliver a product or service; and how implementation of their project improved the overall quality of products and services, significantly enhanced operational efficiency, simplified work processes, generated increased revenues, or reduced spending.


Awarded to - Missouri StormAware - Department of Public Safety and Office of Administration

The winning team develops and implements a new process/product/service or a better application to an existing process/product/service to create an "added value" to state government.The winning project also delivers benefits to the citizens of Missouri through advances in vital services such as healthcare, education, communications, transportation, etc.


Awarded to - Emergency Action Planning for High-Hazard-Potential Dams in Missouri - Department of Natural Resources and Department of Public Safety

The winning team identifies, develops, and implements cutting-edge technology to improve services, solve problems, reduce cost, increase efficiency, and extend human capabilities.The winning project also improves the customer experience, achieves better policy outcomes, reduces paperwork burdens, and improves efficiency by reducing duplication and routine processing, leveraging delivery capacity and streamlining processes.


Awarded to - DM 3700 Project - Department of Mental Health [this category is only available to the GAQP Selection Committee] The GAQP Pinnacle Award is awarded to a team if, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, a nomination clearly encompasses multiple award categories in a manner that exemplifies the spirit of the Governor's Award or exceeds all other nominations.

"The four teams that are being presented with this year's Governor's Award for Quality and Productivity represent the best in innovative thought, and serve as examples for all of us in maximizing our limited taxpayer resources," Gov. Jay Nixon said. "These teams of remarkable and creative individuals are improving the lives of Missourians every day, and I laud their tremendous accomplishments and contributions to the state of Missouri."

For additional information regarding the Governor's Award for Quality and Productivity or to view the winning 2012 nominations, visit http://www.training.oa.mo.gov/erp//winnom.html.

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Governor's Pinnacle Award - Disease Management 3700 Project Team


Hawthorn Children’s Psychiatric Hospital Earns ‘Top Performer on Key Quality Measures™’ Recognition from The Joint Commission

Hawthorn Children’s Psychiatric Hospital (HCPH) has been recognized by The Joint Commission (TJC) as being among America’s top 18% of performing hospitals on accreditation measurements focused on quality of care. TJC is the leading accrediting agency of hospitals and other health care organizations in America.

HCPH was recognized by The Joint Commission for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for inpatient psychiatric services. Hawthorn is one of only 620 hospitals in the U.S. earning the distinction of Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance during the 2011 calendar year.

Hawthorn is a Department of Mental Health state operated inpatient hospital for children with psychiatric disorders based in St. Louis. It serves 131 children each year in 28 acute inpatient hospital beds.

“The Department of Mental Health is delighted with the Hawthorn Top Performer on Key Quality Measures recognition from The Joint Commission,” said Dr. Keith Schafer, Director for the Department. “We are extremely proud of the work that Hawthorn does in serving some of Missouri’s most troubled children.”

Below is the direct link to the 2012 annual report: http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/TJC_Annual_Report_2012.pdf



Gov. Nixon announces federal grant to help Will’s Place in Joplin expand its services throughout four-state region for children, youth impacted by trauma

JOPLIN, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon today announced a federal grant to help the Ozark Center’s Will’s Place expand the scope of its services for helping children and youth impacted by trauma. The Governor made the announcement at the child trauma treatment center, which opened in January. Will’s Place is named after Will Norton, who died in the May 2011 tornado after just graduating from Joplin High School.

Will’s Place will receive a grant of $400,000 annually for the next four years through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant will enable the center to be a Category III Community Treatment and Services Center of Excellence that will serve not only Jasper County, but a regional four-state area that includes Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Governor was joined today by representatives of the Ozark Center and other mental health professionals from the Joplin area; by Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Keith Schafer; by Capt. Jose Belardo, Regional Health Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and by Mark and Trish Norton, parents of Will Norton.

“When I was here in January for the opening of Will’s Place, we knew this center would provide needed treatment and services for young people locally who were affected by trauma, especially by the tornado,” Gov. Nixon said. “This grant will help the staff here provide that same top-notch level of care to children and youth throughout this region. The expansion of this center’s mission to become a nationally recognized center of excellence in the field of child trauma speaks volumes about the good work that has been accomplished at Will’s Place in a short amount of time.”

In July 2011, Gov. Nixon announced that the state of Missouri was allocating $2 million to help establish Will’s Place. The center has been made possible by a partnership between the Ozark Center, a part of Freeman Health System; St. John’s Mercy; the Joplin Public Schools; the Department of Mental Health; the Children’s Center of Southwest Missouri; and the Missouri Institute for Mental Health.

The federal grant will help the center:

As part of the grant, Will’s Place will collaborate with other National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative program grant recipients to share in the development, dissemination and evaluations of the various activities and products across the country.


Mental health pilot program saves taxpayers $9.2 million in 12 months

Other states look to replicate innovative Missouri program that focuses on disease management in people with severe mental illness.

It was pure luck that Tina Wideman found the letter she says saved her life.

She’d been evicted from her duplex, but her aunt still lived next door. When Wideman stopped by for a visit, she spotted a weathered envelope sticking out of her abandoned mailbox.

Wideman, 45, who was homeless and living in a tent on the bank of the Meramac River, tore it open and began to read: “It said, ‘Hi Tina. This is Lizzie. I’d like to hear your story.”

The letter was an invitation from a community support worker at Crider Health Center asking Wideman to participate in the Disease Management 3700 (DM3700) project, a collaboration between the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) and MO HealthNet Division, which administers Medicaid.

Under the program, community support workers across Missouri have tracked down thousands of high-risk, high-cost clients like Wideman, who have serious medical problems complicated by mental illness but were not enrolled in mental health services. Wideman suffers from bipolar
disorder, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain and a benign mass on her brain. In less than a year, her Medicaid and pharmacy bills had surpassed $27,000, including 17 emergency room visits and three hospitalizations.

This innovative project represents a seismic shift in how Medicaid has traditionally been administered. Instead of waiting for mentally ill clients to use the health care system on their own (often inefficiently and with poor results), the state seeks them out and invites them to enroll in a Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) where they can find help managing both their physical and mental health care needs.


Three out of five people with mental illness die from a preventable disease because they have trouble managing their chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma, says Dr. Joseph Parks, chief clinical officer for the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

“People with serious mental illness are much more likely to have multiple chronic medical conditions than the general population,” says Parks. “Many more people die of heart attacks than suicide
among the mentally ill. The reason: They’re not being treated because their mental illnesses interfere with concentration, organization and persistence.

“Health care is confusing to most of us, and it gets much more complicated and difficult for someone with cognitive impairment.”

Parks and other Missouri mental health officials had hoped the program, now nearing the end of its two-year pilot phase, would reduce Medicaid costs by improving the quality of health care for
people like Wideman.

They were right. DM 3700 has not only saved and dramatically improved lives, it has saved the state $9.2 million in 12 months — an average of $588 per month per enrollee.

A Kansas City client who’d been in two accidents and suffered severe pain was scheduled to have a $300,000 procedure to implant a device in his back. The man’s mental health worker went to his
doctor’s appointments with him and helped him to seek a second opinion. The patient learned that the surgery posed more risks than potential good, so he decided against it, avoiding the dangerous and expensive procedure.

Key in reducing costs has been providing Wideman and others with a “healthcare home” that includes a primary care or behavioral health provider responsible for overall health coordination, such as help scheduling and keeping medical care appointments, offering prevention and
wellness opportunities and assistance following medical advice and complex medication regimens.

According to Parks, DM3700 has shown that if given the proper information technology and training, community mental health providers “are extremely effective in improving care and the general medical conditions of this population. They can also save lots of money.”


In 2010, The Lewin Group, a health care policy research and management consulting firm, reviewed the state’s Medicaid program and found that 5.4 percent of the state’s Medicaid population had incurred more than half of all Medicaid costs.

The firm discovered that 23,823 Medicaid clients had each racked up at least $25,000 in individual claims in 2008. Of these, 85 percent had at least one claim for a mental health diagnosis. The firm also reported that 80 percent of high-volume medical and surgery users had at least one
behavioral health condition.

The state further analyzed Medicaid rolls and identified 3,700 people who fit a specific criteria: They had high Medicaid costs, a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder
or recurrent depression, a co-occurring chronic medical condition and were not currently enrolled as DMH clients.

Identifying them on paper was the easy part. Finding and engaging them in services proved much more difficult. This group was simply hard to find. Letters were returned or unanswered. Only 16 percent of these clients had a phone number listed, and many were disconnected or wrong

State mental health workers found that the best way to find this group was in person — at their medical appointments, or often in abandoned buildings or parks frequented by the homeless.

The effort proved challenging but successful. To date, more than 2,240 people have been helped by the program.

“We love the more aggressive outreach that this program is all about,” said Michael Keller, executive director of Independence Center, a CMHC in St. Louis, and a board member of the Missouri Mental Health Foundation, which supported the DM 3700 project. “Why wait until people are in extreme peril to start making a difference in their lives?”

Every four months, around 2,000 new people are identified by MO HealthNet and assigned to the Community Mental Health Centers for outreach under DM3700.

The program is still being evaluated, but has already caught national attention.

“We have a lot of other states inquiring,” Parks says. “In Missouri, we’re just going to keep doing it even though the pilot program is ending. It’s too cool to stop. It saves lives and money. Why
would we stop?”

Wideman says the letter she received changed her life. Her community support worker, Lizzie, helped her to obtain a housing voucher and convinced her to end a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. Wideman is now living in her own mobile home in St. Clair, learning how to budget her money and live independently. She has also been working with Lizzie on her medication regimen and communicating more effectively with her medical providers.

“Bless Lizzie’s heart,” Wideman says, choking up with emotion. “She fought so hard for me. I’ve never had anything in my life, besides my children, that was so lucky. She was Godsent.”


Army OneSource, Bring them the rest of the way home

Behavioral Health Education Campaign

Department of Mental Health Making Effort to Help Missouri’s Returning Veterans

The Missouri Department of Mental Health is making a push to better train behavioral health professionals on how to help returning veterans and their families cope with the unique stresses that result from their experiences in the service and the readjustment to returning to the realities of everyday life.

“Service members from Missouri and their families have made huge sacrifices for their country,”stated Dr. Keith Schafer, Department of Mental Health Director. “Now we need to strengthen our support for behavioral health professionals in Missouri who help these heroes overcome the invisible wounds of war.”

The goal is to get 2,000 professionals in the mental health and substance abuse fields to complete this important, free training by September 30.

The Department of Mental Health is asking its contracted providers and other behavioral health care professionals to take special training in military culture, the impact of combat stress, the effects of deployment on children and families, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“The more professionals understand the military culture and unique problems of veterans and their families, the better they can be helped to lead healthy, satisfying lives here in Missouri,” Schafer said.

Training is FREE, online and nationally accredited. If you are a Missouri behavioral health professional or if you know one, please visit http://www.restofthewayhome.com/ to sign up for this important training and help bring our local heroes the rest of the way home.



Specialized mental health unit opens in Kansas City to serve persons who are deaf

The Department of Mental Health and Truman Medical Center announce the opening of an acute care unit at the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Kansas City, MO, September 4, 2012. This is part of a state-wide mental health treatment program for deaf individuals in need of short-term inpatient treatment.

To provide improved services to the Deaf community, the staff at Truman Medical Center has gone through in-depth training on Deaf culture and Deaf mental health services. The center recognizes the unique aspects of Deaf culture and provides a culturally affirmative and sensitive treatment environment that stresses the importance of American Sign Language as the medium of communication.

Last Month, the Department opened a program at St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center to provide intermediate and long-term inpatient mental health services to persons who are deaf.


Missouri State University Hosts Art Opening to

Raise Awareness of Mental Health Issues

The Missouri Mental Health Foundation, in collaboration with Missouri State University, presents the opening of the 2012 Director’s Creativity Traveling Showcase on Friday, September 7, 2012, at the Center City Counseling Clinic – Missouri State University, Park Central Office Building – 240 South Avenue in Springfield. The art exhibit will be held in conjunction with the “First Friday Art Walk” in the Downtown Arts District, which offers original art, live music, art demonstrations, food, fun and more in participating venues from 6 – 10 p.m. Enjoy the art and experience Springfield’s favorite free arts event!

“Making the art available for public viewing is just one of the ways we can help reduce stigma associated with having a mental illness, developmental disability or substance abuse issue,” says Patty Henry, Executive Director of the Missouri Mental Health Foundation. “The artwork is inspiring and shows the amazing talents of many individuals faced with mental health issues.”

The artwork is created not only for the showcase, but also as a means of therapy and recreation by people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse who are served by the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

“The Missouri State University Department of Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education is very pleased to have this opportunity to partner with the Missouri Mental Health Foundation to showcase the creative works of individuals served by the Missouri Department of Mental Health,” says Tamara Arthaud, Department Head, Missouri State University. “It fits nicely within our university’s public affairs mission to assist in this effort to reduce barriers that may hinder the productivity and community participation of persons with developmental disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse. We look forward to this public event, and we hope to see a large gathering of the public to view the wonderful artwork provided in this Showcase.”

The Missouri Mental Health Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness and public understanding to the many issues that impact individuals and families who are living with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addictions disorders. Increasing awareness and understanding of mental health disorders will help dissolve stigma and open doors to treatment and equal opportunity for participation in schools, communities and the workforce.

For more information about the 2012 Director’s Creativity Showcase contact the Missouri Mental Health Foundation at (573) 635-9201 or e-mail mmhf@missourimhf.org.


DMH opens Deaf Services Program

The Department of Mental Health announced this week its opening of a state-wide mental health treatment program for deaf individuals in need of intermediate to long-term inpatient treatment. The Missouri Deaf Service Program recognizes the unique aspects of deaf culture and provides a culturally affirmative and sensitive treatment environment that stresses the importance of American Sign Language as the medium of communication.

The program was opened at St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center and is operated in an eight bed cottage environment. The St. Louis program is just one component of a comprehensive mental health treatment initiative for persons who are deaf. The continuum of services also includes an acute care unit operated by Truman Medical Center at the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Kansas City; and two specialized community –based outpatient centers operated by Truman Medical Center in Kansas City and BJC Behavioral Health in St. Louis.

“We are still in the process of ironing out some details of this system,” said Mark Stringer, Director of the Divisions of Psychiatric Services and Alcohol and Drug Abuse, “but we are confident the end result will be a better and more culturally sensitive system of care for persons who are deaf and have serious mental illness.”









Dr. Felix Vincenz cuts the ribbon at St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center, home of the new treatment program for deaf individuals. (Left image)

DMH Director of Deaf Services, Elijah Buchholz, signs with those attending the ribbon cutting. (Right image)


Gary Moore, State Employee of the Month

The dietary services at Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center have undergone a major change in the past year in moving to an electronic  process that has improved efficiency for the facility and satisfaction for the patients. Gary Moore, Storekeeper II at the facility, took the initiative, using his technical skills, to help bring about this change. For his efforts, Gary has been named the Department of Mental Health Employee of the Month for June 2012.

At the request of his supervisors, Gary began exploring how to replace the manual forms process used in dietary with an electronic process. He created a site on the intranet for the Dietary Department to run meal tray cards with the patients dietary information, including any updates and modification. Previously, this information was hand written by dietary staff. Changes took as long as 24 hours to implement. Now, diet order changes for the patients are made immediately.

“These computerized dietary applications have helped make major improvements to food service accuracy and overall consumer meal satisfaction,” said Melanie Bullard, the director of dietary services for the facility.

Using Microsoft InfoPath/Sharepoint as an electronic forms conversion platform, Gary was able to improve the facility’s purchase and supply requisition process. He found that the software could be used as a complementary interface to route forms, set up approval and workflows. Gary was able to convert a manual form system to a complete electronic-form system, saving staff time and increasing efficiency and timeliness of staff and patient requisitions.

The implementation of the electronic process was done without any cost to the facility and has increased efficiency and decreased the use of paper and ink cartridges.

Gary has worked for the Department for 30 years and has been at SMMHC since 1982

Congratulations Gary.


Gary Moore


One year after Joplin tornado disaster

'Weather School' eases minds of youngest survivors

– A year after Joplin was hit by one of the deadliest tornados in history, the tattered town is showing signs of healing.

Piles of rubble shrink by the day as they’re bulldozed and hauled away. New structures rise from leveled lots. Everyday routines are slowly being reestablished: Joplin’s “new normal”
is starting to emerge.

And while the visible scars of the disaster are beginning to fade, the internal, emotional wounds remain raw. 

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the lingering mental health impacts of tornados can leave children feeling traumatized for months,
if not years.

Tornado watches and warnings.  Thunderstorms. Dark clouds. The still visible evidence of the tornado’s cruelly unpredictable path. All these things can cause Joplin children (and adults) to
suddenly find themselves reliving the emotions and fears they experienced when
the May 22 tornado, three-quarters of a mile wide at times, roared along the
ground for six miles, grinding up neighborhoods and lives.

To empower kids during the current storm season, the Missouri Mental Health Foundation (MMHF) recently teamed up with a beloved local weatherman, a Joplin-based child mental health center and the Joplin school district to put on a “Weather School” program to help kids combat
their feelings of helplessness and fear.

Gary Bandy, chief meteorologist for television station KSN, and Dawnielle Robinson, a counselor at Will’s Place – A Healing Center for Kids operated by Freeman Health System, traveled to
eight different Joplin schools during Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week in March.

The duo delivered Weather School presentations to about 3,600 kids in an effort to reduce their fear, anxiety and flashbacks by providing them with a logical, science-based understanding of weather.

“Our main goal was to give kids an opportunity to approach tornados from a scientific base to remove their purely emotional response,” Bandy said. “I tried to explain to the younger children
how rare this tornado was, and that not every tornado is going to come even
remotely close to that.”

The May 22 Joplin tornado, which damaged or destroyed more than 8,000 homes and businesses and killed 161 people, was the deadliest tornado on record since modern record keeping began
in 1950. The head meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Springfield dubbed it “a fist coming out of the sky.”

In addition to the homes, hospital and businesses that were destroyed, the high school and an elementary school stood in ruins, and several other school buildings were majorly damaged.

During the Weather School assemblies, Bandy told gymnasiums and classrooms crowded with rapt students how to identify different clouds, from cirrus to nimbus. He described what causes
tornadoes. He also told them the difference between tornado watches and warnings, and what to include in emergency kits.

Robinson was on hand to answer any questions related to mental health.

“Kiddos often get anxious and they try to match the thoughts in their head to the anxiety they’re feeling,”  Robinson said. “So, our goal with the Weather School was to help them do some
thought-stopping and base their concerns on a real, concrete and scientific interpretation of the weather.”

The Weather School also sought to empower kids by giving them clear instructions on what to do in disaster situations. A donation by MMHF allowed Bandy and Robinson to pass out thousands
of refrigerator magnets upon which kids could write their family’s own emergency plans.

Bandy also discussed how tornado warnings have gotten better over the years as meteorologists have learned more about how tornadoes form and behave, and as technology has advanced to improve predictions about where tornadoes are likely to develop and move.

Mental health impacts long-term

The May 22 tornado is expected to have a long-term impact on the mental health of Joplin’s students, said Vicky Mieseler, vice president for clinical services at the Ozark Center, which
is affilicated with Will’s Place and provides behavioral health services to more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“We know we are just beginning a long road to recovery,” Mieseler said. “Many of us grew up in tornado alley. Healing will come with time. First, we need to get past the one-year anniversary. People are still bracing themselves for that.”

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, tornados threaten the usual assumptions of safety because their paths are often erratic. This was the case in Joplin. In some neighborhoods, certain houses were completely leveled, while others sustained little damage. This inconsistent pattern can cause feelings of guilt in those spared, or unfairness in those recovering.

Robinson and other mental health professionals have witnessed many different emotional reactions in children and adults exposed to Joplin’s tornado, including feelings of insecurity, unfairness, anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, despair and worries about the future.

“We’ve seen many mental health issues in the student body,” Robinson said. “Nightmares. Grades plummeting. A lot of regression. Self-harm, including cutting. We’ve seen 15 or 16-year-old
boys carrying around stuffed animals.” There have also been additional problems with more absenteeism, self-medicating and recklessness among older students.

Philip Willcoxon, CEO of the Ozark Center, is an elected member of the Joplin Public Schools Board of Education and a MMHF board member. He said the school district has worked closely with Joplin’s mental health community to provide students with the best interventions possible.

“The Weather School,” Willcoxon said, “was one of many things in our tool box.”

At several schools, students affected by the storm have been placed in problem-solving teams and group counseling. At some schools, Willcoxon said, up to 40 percent of students are part of these groups or receive individual counseling.  The school district also has started suicide prevention training for teachers and for students who are in fifth grade and older.

Despite the Weather School’s scholarly approach, the Weather School sessions were still highly

“I can talk about all the signs and causes,” Bandy recalled, “but it’s still really difficult when a little boy comes up to you after the presentation and says, ‘My friend died. How do I know that’s not going to happen to me this May?’”

Still, those who created the Weather School hope that the groundwork they’ve laid this school year will help during this storm season. The group has received positive feedback from parents that their children are more prepared for a storm than they were last year.

Slowly, Robinson said, the community is starting to accept what has happened and move forward. The Weather School has been part of that healing, for both the students and those responsible for turning it into a reality.

“One of the things that builds resilience is when people can step up and help someone else,” Robinson says. “Those of us involved in the Weather School were pretty jazzed. We got more out
of the students than they got out of us.”



Kathie Metzinger, State Employee of the Month

Kathie Metzinger, Employee Health Nurse and Infection Preventionist at Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center in St. Joseph, was honored by Governor Jay Nixon on May 10 as the Missouri State Employee of the Month for March 2012. She represents the more than 50,000 state employees. Kathie was one of the three DMH staff named DMH Employee of the Month for January.

Kathie took action that may have saved the lives of a fellow employee and her husband. On November 29, the fellow employee, who works in the nursing department, attempted to reach her supervision to say she could not come to work because of illness. Since the supervisor was not available, the employee called Kathie. The employee explained that she had taken her husband to the emergency room the night before and that they had been home for a while. She said her husband was not feeling any better and was in bed. The employee herself was experiencing similar symptoms and could not stay on her feet.  She was falling after taking a few steps and was going to lie in bed with her husband.

Kathie immediately asked if they had gas in their home and the fellow employee replied yes, they use propane. Kathie told her it might be carbon monoxide poisoning and she should call 911 and raise the windows. By the time law enforcement and paramedics arrived, the employee had dragged her husband from the house, as she could not wake him to walk out on his own. Officials tested the home and found potentially lethal levels of carbon monoxide in the home. The employee and her husband were taken to the hospital. The employee was released later that day and her husband was discharged the next day. It was determined that a furnace malfunction caused the carbon monoxide in the home.

“Kathie paid attention to the caller to realize that the employee and her husband were experiencing some serious symptoms, and she was insistent on getting an emergency response,” said hospital officials.

After the incident, on the same day, Kathie contacted a local safety expert who provided her with print information on carbon monoxide that she posted on employee bulletin boards. The next day, Kathie had a power-point presentation on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning sent to all employees of the hospital.

Kathie serves a dual role at the hospital. As Infection Preventionist, she handles all infection control issues, including monitoring infections, infection control training, reporting, developing policies, inspecting areas, and insuring proper hand-washing. As Employee Health Nurse, she tracks and provides annual TB testing, verifies health records of students and interns, assists employees with FMLA applications, and tracks FMLA usage. She works closely with Human Resources and administration on specific issues related to FMLA, sick leave usage, and employees’ ability to perform the physical requirements of their jobs.

Kathie has worked for DMH for three years and nine months, all of it at Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center.

Congratulations Kathie!


Kathie Metzinger, State Employee of the Month



2012 Mental Health Champions and Lasting Legacy Awards

[Jefferson City, MO] - Three remarkable Missourians who have overcome mental health challenges to make life better for others and their communities have been chosen as 2012 Mental Health Champions by the Missouri Mental Health Foundation. The Champions are Ms. Shelly Wims of St. Louis, Mr. Aaron Likens of St. Louis and Mr. Tomas Hernandez of Kansas City. 

They will be honored on June 19, 2012, at the Fifth Annual Mental Health Champions Banquet to be held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. Reservations for the event as well as table sponsorships are available at Missouri Mental Health Foundation.

The Missouri Mental Health Foundation will also honor the memories of two Lasting Legacy award recipients who blazed a trail that has benefitted many individuals and families in Missouri who face mental health challenges.  The 2012 Lasting Legacy award recipients are Mr. Bill Kyles of Kansas City and Ms. Jane Bierdeman-Fike of Fulton.

“These are individuals who truly have made a difference in the lives of Missourians affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse,” said Patty Henry, Executive Director of the Missouri Mental Health Foundation. “Their personal stories, as well as their accomplishments, are inspiring.”

Shelly Wims is a role model for people who are struggling with alcohol and other drug addictions. She is open about her addiction experiences and, early in her recovery process, expressed a desire to become a substance abuse counselor.  She moved to the St. Louis area and began to organize recovery support groups at one of the local churches, as well as pursue her goal of becoming a substance abuse counselor.  Currently, Shelly is a counselor with the Gateway Foundation in St. Louis. Shelly also served as an instructor for Committed Caring Faith Communities’ Advanced Addictions Academy for faith leaders.  She continues to share her personal testimony and expertise, and helps faith leaders learn to work with people who are re-entering the community after being incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

Aaron Likens has worked tirelessly over the past two years to increase awareness and understanding of autism through workshops and presentations, as well as advocating for early intervention.  He provides insight into life with autism and how to better support an individual with spectrum disorder.  Aaron is a published author who shares how the Autism Spectrum Disorder mind works through his book, “Finding Kansas: Decoding the Enigma of Asperger’s Syndrome”.  Aaron is impacting thousands of lives by sharing his perspective, struggles and triumphs.

Tomas Hernandez has worked diligently with NAMI Kansas City and NAMI-Kansas as a mental health advocate.  He started his own mental health advocacy organization, Rita Kay Foundation, and is working to start support groups for urban youth dealing with mental health issues.  Tomas, who is also a veteran, speaks passionately about his experience with mental illness.  He has been an “In Our Own Voice” speaker for many years.  He is also a Peer-to-Peer teacher and state trainer.  He continuously tries to provide those around him with hope, support and encouragement.

Bill Kyles served as the President and CEO of Comprehensive Mental Health Services in Independence, MO, for nearly 30 years until his death in 2011.  In 2009, he was elected as Board Chairman of the National Council of Behavioral Healthcare and for six years prior to that, was Staff Director over Region VII covering Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.  Bill was also a founding member of CommCare, a regional managed behavioral healthcare company comprised of 11 mental health organizations.  Bill served on multiple boards and received numerous awards and recognition for his dedication and commitment to providing services to individuals challenged with mental health conditions.  Bill Kyle’s many contributions and dedicated service to the mental health field makes him a Lasting Legacy.

Jane Bierdeman-Fike obtained her Masters Degree in Social Work and immediately put it to good use working for the Social Planning Council of St. Louis City and County.  She then went to work for the Department of Mental Health in 1955, beginning a career that spanned 45 years.  During this time she held various roles in social work, including the Director of Social Work at Fulton State Hospital, until her retirement in 2000.  Jane was active in social work education as a lecturer, field instructor, instructor, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the disciplines of social work, social research, health, human behavior, social environment/welfare, administration and supervision for St. Louis University School of Social Work, Washington University, University of Missouri School of Social Work and William Woods University.  She received numerous awards and commendations for her devotion and commitment as an advocate for those with chronic mental illness. Jane Bierdeman-Fike passed away recently; however, her many contributions and dedicated service to the mental health field makes her a Lasting Legacy.

An additional award will be presented this year called the Lasting Legacy Program Award.  This award recognizes a mental health program that transforms the way Missourians are offered or receive services. It represents cutting-edge innovation and collaboration which gives help and hope to Missourians and their families. The Partnership for Hope program will receive this recognition. It combines federal, state and local funding to address the needs of persons with developmental disabilities before there is an emergency. The result is a services system with local input, based on helping people before they reach a crisis situation.

For more information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the 2012 Champions Banquet, please contact Patty Henry at MMHF@MissouriMHF.org.  The Missouri Mental Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and public understanding of issues impacting individuals and families living with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addictions disorders.  Our efforts battle stigma and discrimination, facilitate treatment, and foster inclusion in the community and workforce.



"The Future is NOW: Supporting Real Lives, Real People"

Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities hosts First State-wide Conference in Columbia, MO March 15-16
[JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – The Department of Mental Health Division of Developmental Disabilities is hosting its first, state-wide conference on Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16, at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, MO. The title of the event is: "The Future is NOW: Supporting Real Lives, Real People."
The purpose of this conference is to bring together stakeholders to learn from national leaders, and from one another, about what is happening in the disability field in Missouri and around the nation. The conference provides opportunities during the two days for participants to network with others, share thoughts and experiences and to begin realizing possibilities for Missourians with developmental disabilities.

"For too long people with disabilities have been passengers rather than pilots with regard to their futures," says Bernie Simons, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. "People want real jobs, real relationships, real lives – nothing more, nothing less."

Topics of the conference will focus on family supports, self determination, employment, shared living and accessible housing. Some of the presenters from across the country include: Sharon Lewis, Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities at the Administration for Children and Families; Rachel Simon, Author and Sibling; Steve Eidelman, Co-director of the National Leadership Consortium; and Nancy Thaler, Director of the National Association of Directors of DD Services, just to name a few.

The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday, March 15, and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on
Friday, March 16. For more information about the conference, please contact Debra Walker at debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov or call 573-751-1647.

The Department of Mental Health Announces new Regional Executive Officer for the West

The Department of Mental Health is pleased to announce Denise Norbury, RN, MS, DBA, as the new Western Region Regional Executive Officer (REO) effective February 1, 2012.  This position will expand Dr. Norbury’s current duties as REO for the southwest region where she has been responsible for facility operations, coordination of care, and the overall mental health and substance systems for the region.

The Divisions of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Comprehensive Psychiatric Services are consolidating the current western and southwest regions into a single Western region.  In her new role, Dr. Norbury will oversee Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center in St. Joseph, Center for Behavioral Medicine in Kansas City, and Southwest Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center in El Dorado Springs.  She will also work closely with the Community Mental Health Centers and Affiliates in the consolidated service area.

Ms. Connie Kirby, who assumed the role of Acting REO during this transition, will return to and continue her position as Chief of Adult Community Operations.

Kristina Larsson:  January State Employee of the Month

Kristina Larsson is considered a “resource queen” by her co-workers at the Jefferson County location of the St. Louis Regional Office. As a Service Coordinator II, Kristina is a tremendous advocate for her consumers and is recognized by parents and guardians for her persistence and ability to locate resources. For her work, Kristina has been selected the DMH Employee of the Month for November 2011.

Kristina recently successfully advocated for community placement funds for a consumer by coordinating a unique financial arrangement involving the use of Adoption Subsidy funding. She worked with the Children’s Division to ensure necessary supports were in place for the consumer, including home modifications. Her transition plan for this consumer was cited as exceptional by the Utilization Review Committee.

Kristina’s Individual Support Plans (ISP) have been used as team examples. She researches diagnostic information and provides great detail in the plan.  According to her supervisor, her plans are very detailed and give the readers a great snapshot of the individual.  Kristina works hard to get to know the people she is supporting and it shows in the quality of the plans she writes.

Kristina has worked for the Regional Office for 5 years.

Kristina Larsson January State Employee of the Month

DMH Employee of the Month, November 2011
Kristina Larsson, Service Coordinator II
St. Louis Regional Office (Jefferson County)

Congratulations Kristina!

NOTE: Nominations for DMH Employee of the Month (EOM) should be submitted through the director’s office at each DMH facility.  Nominations received by the 15th of the month will be considered for EOM for that month.  Nominations received after the 15th will be considered for the following month.

Missouri colleges train professors, campus workers in mental health first aid

ALAN SCHER ZAGIER Associated Press, January 07, 2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Mention first aid on a college campus, and most people will point toward the student health center, or perhaps an emergency medical kit in the nearest classroom or residence hall.

University of Missouri psychologist Christy Hutton has a different definition. As coordinator of a new Mental Health First Aid training program, she and partner Sharon Thomas-Parks are teaching campus employees who come in close contact with students — from professors and deans to advisers and admissions officers — how to better recognize and respond to signs of mental illness.

The training effort began a decade ago in Australia, with counselors in Missouri and Maryland among the first to bring the program stateside in recent years.

"Missouri is on the cutting edge of doing some really important work on mental health," said Hutton, outreach coordinator at the campus counseling center.

The nearly 200 people who participated in a 12-hour training session at the Columbia campus last week heard a barrage a statistics from the two women that drive home the pervasiveness of mental health problems on campus.

According to the pair, 75 percent of mental disorders develop before age 25. College students are 70 percent more likely to develop mental illness than other adults, and nearly 10 times more likely to have a drug or alcohol problem. They're also far less likely to receive treatment.

"You're more likely to come across someone who needs mental health first aid than someone who needs the Heimlich maneuver or CPR," said Thomas-Parks, a former university psychologist who is now a private consultant.

Throw in student stress over grades, finances, romances, job prospects and more, and the risk factors only escalate. The American College Health Association reports that between 28 percent and 37 percent of college students seriously consider suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24.

Organizers hope that the sessions will also encourage participants to openly discuss mental health issues, which often remain on the margins, even after the mass shootings on campuses such as Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, Thomas-Parks said. The program is also offered to churches and community groups.

"Stigma is the biggest barrier for people with mental illness," she said. "Fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness is often worse than fighting mental illness itself."

The training helps participants learn how to identify depression, anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse and other problems among students and co-workers. It offers additional resources, from websites to crisis hotlines, tries to puncture some of the common misconceptions surrounding mental health problems, and encourages campus employees to feel comfortable stepping outside their areas of expertise — if only to encourage a student or colleague to seek help, not diagnose or treat the problem.

"We're not going to teach you how to be a therapist," Hutton told participants.

Lynn Carruth-Rasmussen, academic advising director for the College of Education, called the training "extremely helpful, and much needed."

"In the advising world, there's sometimes the perception that we just deal with students on an academic level," she said. "But we come into contact with all of these types of issues. We want students to know that we're here, and we're available."

From role-playing exercises to candid conversations about suicide, the training exercises made participants feel comfortable discussing issues that often invite discomfort, said Michelle Bollinger, a career services coordinator in the College of Education.

"It's been so taboo in the past," she said. "And now it's in the open."

Missouri leads the way in coordinating mental and physical care

By J. Michael Keller, special to the Beacon       
Posted 4:38 pm Fri., 1.6.12
Missouri is quickly becoming a pre-eminent leader in improving the coordination of care for people with serious mental illness and co-occurring, life threatening medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and COPD.

Our state doesn't often find itself in the vanguard of change. We're used to being on the lower half of the leader boards when it comes to the health of our citizens. So, how then did we become a sought-after expert in mental health care delivery?

Most states have seen their mental health system infrastructure crack and crumble under the heavy strain of budget cuts. We in Missouri have also sustained painful cuts, to be sure. But instead of trying to survive by simply scaling back, mental health leaders here have spent the past several years working together across the system to use the resources we do have in the smartest ways possible -- ways that serve our clients and the state's bottom line.

Missouri's efforts to effect life-changing initiatives for people with mental illness and other serious health conditions are driven by a powerful, collaborative environment between the provider community and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

This partnership took root five years ago when one of Missouri's mental health leaders, Dr. Joe Parks, chief clinical director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health, co-published a benchmark study that shook the mental health community across America. "Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness" found that those served by our public mental health systems die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population. More than 80 percent of those premature deaths are due to treatable medical conditions caused by preventable risk factors such as smoking, obesity, substance abuse and inadequate access to medical care.

Numerous other studies showed that people with serious mentally illness and chronic health conditions are more likely than not to receive no medical care whatsoever for those conditions. Both providers and state officials in Missouri came to understand that our system was designed to treat people in emergency situations instead of keeping them from getting acutely ill in the first place. This was not only harmful to those we serve, it also cost taxpayers millions in avoidable costs.

One analysis in our state actually identified a client who showed up at emergency rooms 250 times in a year -- sometimes in multiple emergency rooms in the same day. It would have been cheaper to hire a caseworker assigned 24 hours a day to only him.

Those of us in the mental health community knew we had to do something. We knew we had to act fast (people were dying and the system was crashing financially). And we knew we needed each other to accomplish the kind of systemic change that could turn this problem around. It's like Helen Keller said: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

There are numerous examples of this collaboration over the past several years, including the establishment of the Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis, dedicated to developing an accessible and coordinated system of mental health care through eastern Missouri. We also worked together to help the state implement a cutting-edge disease management program for those receiving mental health services.

In late 2010, the mental health department, MO Health Net and other stakeholders launched a project targeting 3,700 identified high-cost Medicaid clients with chronic medical conditions who were eligible for but not using mental health services. The state sent these clients letters inviting them to enroll in community mental health so we could coordinate and manage both their medical and psychiatric conditions. The hope for the project is that we'll save money by engaging clients in pro-active care that keeps them healthier.

Missouri is continuing it collaborative efforts to reduce inpatient hospitalization and emergency room visits for persons with serious mental illnesses and serious medical conditions. We are confident these efforts will save millions in taxpayer dollars. But more importantly, such efforts will surely ease untold human suffering.

"Our work together is bearing some great fruit," Dr. Karl Wilson, president and CEO of the Crider Health Center, recently said. "It's like planting an orchard a long time ago and after a lot of nurturing, there are some beautiful sustaining payoffs now."

Federal departments are giving us a green light and expediting Missouri's initiatives because we're a model of what collaboration can accomplish. And other states are asking key people from here to explain how we so quickly effected such change. This is unfamiliar terrain for Missouri. No one has ever asked our opinion before. I think we should be proud to give it.

J. Michael Keller is the executive director of the Independence Center in St. Louis. One of the nation's most successful examples of the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, the center helps adults with serious and persistent mental illness to live and work in the community by focusing on their strengths and abilities, not their illness.