News Releases for 2017

Contact: Debra Walker, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs, 573-751-1647 or


Fulton State Hospital Construction Reaches Milestone

Celebrating with the "Topping Out Ceremony"

[October 19, 2017, Fulton, MO] Fulton State Hospital construction reached a major milestone Thursday when workers placed the "final" beam in the new housing facility.

"It's not the actual last beam, but it's symbolically the last beam," Warren Moody, senior project manager for River City Construction, said.

Local leaders, representatives from River City Construction, the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the Fulton State Hospital gathered to sign the beam and watch it rise into place.

"We call it a topping out ceremony," Moody said. "I've been in the construction business for 20 years and have done these ceremonies about five or six times."

Atop the beam were an American flag and a small cedar tree. Moody said the flag represents America, but the tree has a more interesting story. He said the ritual of placing a tree atop a new building dates back to the eighth century and was started by Vikings."It's to appease the tree spirits (displaced by the construction)," he said.

Project beginnings

Fulton State Hospital CEO, Bob Reitz, talked about how he first got the ball rolling on the project.

"My introduction to Gov. Jay Nixon was sitting knee-to-knee with him to talk about what Biggs (Forensic Center) wasn't doing for us," he said.

Reitz said he must have been persuasive. The $211 million update to facilities at the hospital was initially approved by the state Legislature in 2014, with construction beginning in May 2015.

"In April 2015, I got the largest set of drawings and specs I've ever seen," Cody Waters, project manager for the State of Missouri, said. "Once this project started, there was only one location on the entire site that we could just build on without demolishing something."

By June 2016, the first major phase of construction — the 65,000-square-foot, $25 million Energy Control Center — had been completed. Work progressed steadily, though not without hiccups.

"We have dug up everything under the sun here," Waters said. "Asbestos has not been our friend."

He pointed out the campus dates back to the mid-1800s and includes a pre-Civil War barn.

Construction workers said Thursday the project was going smoothly while waiting in line for the barbecue lunch.

"It's a good safe job with good guys," said Ken Spears, an iron worker who helped fit the ceremonial beam into place. "It's a typical union job."

Thursday's ceremony marked progress on the new intermediate/maximum security facility, called Nixon Forensic Center. Moody said there is still plenty of work to be done on the building's interior before the planned completion date at the end of 2018.

The new facilities are already drawing attention from neighboring states, Reitz said.

"We have other states asking what we're doing here, and, 'Can we come look?'" he added.

Missouri Department of Mental Health director Mark Stringer backed Reitz's statement."I've got one of the best jobs on Earth," Stringer added. "To continue that good work, we need good facilities."

Patients will move into Nixon Forensic Center in spring 2019.

(Article published (corrections added) in Fulton Sun, October 20, 2017)



William Woods University to establish nursing degree program

New degree will be in partnership with Fulton State Hospital, help meet a regional and statewide health care need

[October 5, 2017, Fulton, MO] – William Woods University (WWU) is making a foray into the one of the most significant, and permanent, sectors of the U.S. economy – health care.

WWU President Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett announced that the university intends to begin offering a nursing degree beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year, in conjunction with the Fulton State Hospital. The new degree program will create a pipeline of Registered Nurse (RN) graduates to fill a significant regional and statewide healthcare need, which is a shortage of RN’s.

“Our academic mission has always stressed producing marketable graduates that are in-demand by a wide range of employers,” said President Barnett. “Establishing a nursing program at William Woods is entirely consistent with that mission. Employment needs in the health care sector, which comprises about one-sixth of the U.S. economy, are significant, and existing higher education nursing programs are unable to keep up with the demand. We are proud to partner with Fulton State Hospital to help meet this critical need.”

Almost 16 percent of nursing positions in Missouri hospitals are currently vacant, according to a study by the Missouri Hospital Association. The vacancy rate in mid-Missouri doubled in 2016 alone, to 16.2 percent. Fulton State Hospital itself currently has a nurse vacancy rate of more than 30 percent, making a partnership with WWU vital.

“We are so excited for the opportunity to partner with William Woods to support a nursing program in Fulton,” said Andy Atkinson, Chief Operating Officer of Fulton State Hospital. “I am hopeful this collaboration will not only further increase educational opportunities and resources to our employees, it will expand the nursing applicant pool for our hospital and community. I am confident that an alliance with such a reputable and revered university will positively impact the nursing shortages seen throughout Missouri.”

“This new nursing program will provide students with a real, hands-on training experience alongside some of the best mental health professionals in the state,” said Mark Stringer, Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. “The new hospital facility under construction will have modern treatment areas and be an exciting place for students to learn and provide care. William Woods University’s nursing graduates will add talent and stability to the DMH workforce.”

According to a memorandum of understanding between WWU and Fulton State Hospital, the hospital will make its educational facility available for William Woods students in the program, including use of classroom space; additional space for a simulation lab; office space for nursing faculty and staff, and access to the hospital’s library.

William Woods recently began searching for a Director of the proposed School of Nursing, which is the first step in certifying the new degree programs. The appointment of a School of Nursing Director will begin the process of assessing which specific degree programs the university will offer. Additional steps will be to gain approval for the programs from the Missouri State Board of Nursing, and designing a course curriculum for each.

“Making this investment in the substantial higher education market of health sciences is the kind of strategic initiative that has allowed our university to flourish over the past 25 years,” said President Barnett. “We are excited to add another program that will further strengthen and grow William Woods University.”

WWU has enjoyed significant growth during President Barnett’s tenure. Since her appointment in 1990, enrollment has increased from 750 to over 2,000 students; the university’s endowment has increased by nearly 250 percent, from $5.7 to $19.6 million; graduate-level, online and study abroad programs have been added; the university eliminated its long-term debt and has maintained an operating budget in the black for 15 straight years; and infrastructure and capitol improvements on the main campus in Fulton have included the construction of ten new major buildings.



Citizens invited to comment on Department of Mental Health administrative rules as part of a new review process

Public input important to ensure Missourians receive services safely and efficiently

[July 10, 2017, Jefferson City, MO] - Governor Greitens issued Executive Order 17-03 on January 10, 2017, requiring all state agencies to conduct a review of existing and proposed regulations. These regulations are published in the Missouri Code of State Regulations (CSR).  Governor Greitens is committed to ensuring all state regulations are essential to the health, safety, and welfare of Missourians without being overly restrictive.

As part of this review, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) will be accepting public comments on its existing regulations for the next 60 days. These regulations help to ensure Missouri citizens in need of assistance for a mental disorder, developmental disability, substance use disorder, or gambling problem receive necessary services in a safe and effective manner.  Your comments will assist the department in carrying out its mission, as well as achieving the goals of Governor Greitens’ Executive Order.

A link has been added to the Department’s website where you can review all regulations and provide comments.  You will find the DMH Administrative Regulations link under How do I find? on the DMH homepage.

Comments will be accepted until Sunday, September 10, 2017. 

The Department will also hold two public hearings to allow interested providers, stakeholders and individuals to share comments on DMH’s administrative regulations as published in the Missouri Code of Regulations (CSR).   Those hearings will be as follows:

Department of Mental Health

Administrative Rules Review Public Hearings

Thursday, August 17 and Tuesday, August 29

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Central Office, Conference Rooms A & B

1706 E. Elm Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101

Individuals providing comments will be asked to sign-in and limit their comments to five (5) minutes.  Prepared written comments are appreciated but not required.  The sessions will be recorded to accurately capture all comments.  DMH staff will facilitate the sessions but will not discuss or respond to comments.

DMH will inform the public of any updates to the review process at:




Missouri receives Show Me Hope Crisis Counseling grant to help flood survivors

Behavioral health outreach funding begins immediately

[July 6, 2017, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – In response to the historic flooding and severe storms from April 28 to May 11, 2017, the Show Me Hope Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) grant will fund psychological services to help build hope and resiliency in Missouri’s survivors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded the CCP grant to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) this week to continue outreach services through six participating Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs): BJC, Comtrea, Compass Health, Family Counseling Center, Ozark Center, and Ozarks Medical Center.

Show Me Hope crisis counselors will be in their counties connecting survivors with local mental health resources. Individuals who need disaster case management can dial 2-1-1 for more information. Residents can also contact the Disaster Distress Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-985-5990 or send a text message “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

Individuals and families impacted by the flooding who live in one of the following Missouri counties included in the presidential disaster declaration will have access to Show Me Hope services. Those counties are: Butler, Carter, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Howell, Jasper, Jefferson, Maries, McDonald, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Pemiscot, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, St. Louis, and Texas.

The CCP is a short-term disaster relief grant funded by FEMA and administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).It assists individuals and families in recovery from disasters through the following goals:
    • Reach large numbers of people affected by disasters through face-to-face outreach to shelters, homes, community events and other locations
    • Assess the emotional needs of survivors and make referrals to traditional behavioral health services when necessary
    • Identify tangible needs and link survivors to community resources and disaster relief services
    • Provide emotional support, education, basic crisis counseling, and connection to familial and community support systems
    • Train and educate CCP staff and other community partners about disaster reactions, appropriate interventions, and CCP services
    • Develop partnerships with local disaster and other organizations
    • Work with local stakeholders to promote community resilience and recovery
    • Collect and evaluate data to ensure quality services and justify program efforts
    • Leave behind a permanent legacy of improved coping skills, educational and resource materials, and enhanced community connections.

For disaster updates from the State of Missouri, visit Missouri’s recovery website at For disaster updates from FEMA, visit the disaster webpage at



Law Enforcement Officers from across Missouri gather to focus on Mental Health

3rd Annual Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Conference in Columbia

[March 28, 2017, COLUMBIA, MO] —The 3rd Annual Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) conference was held Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at the Holiday Inn Expo Center in Columbia, MO. More than 500 law enforcement officers, first responders and behavioral health professional attended the event this year! The purpose of CIT is to address the challenges that often arise when law enforcement officers encounter individuals with behavioral health conditions in crisis situations.

“This conference brings law enforcement and behavioral health professionals together to determine better ways of serving those with serious mental illness or substance use disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system,” said Sgt. Jeremy Romo, CIT Council Coordinator.  “It results in safer communities and better outcomes for our citizens and our law enforcement officers.”

The CIT program trains law enforcement to guide individuals to appropriate mental health services and offer support, instead of sending them directly to the criminal justice system. The 40-hour training covers mental illness, crisis response, active listening, tactical communication/de-escalation, and mental health law. CIT officers learn basic assessment skills for handling situations and are provided with knowledge of local behavioral health services. CIT Training serves as both a jail diversion as well as a means to mental health assistance.

This annual conference is hosted by the Missouri Crisis Intervention Team (MO CIT) Council. CIT is most effective when everyone works together for the best outcome; law enforcement, behavioral health providers, community leaders and individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders and their families.

For more information about Missouri CIT contact Sgt. Jeremy Romo at 314-581-5459 or e-mail



Show Me Zero Suicide Academy Offers Missouri Health & Behavioral Healthcare Providers an Approach to Suicide Safe Care

 2nd Missouri Show Me Zero Suicide Academy

[March 14-15, 2017, Jefferson City, MO] – The Department of Mental Health participated in the 2nd Show Me Zero Suicide Academy to transform health and behavioral health care systems to reduce suicides among people in its care. In the two-day training, health and behavioral healthcare organizations learned how to incorporate best and promising practices to improve care and safety for those at risk for suicide. Organizations are challenged to make suicide a never event within their own systems of care.  Academy attendees collaborated with the Show Me Zero Suicide Academy faculty to develop action plans. The Academy was sponsored by the Department of Mental Health and the Coalition of Community Behavioral Healthcare Centers.

Here is a link to the Missouri Suicide Safe Care Initiative.

Zero Suicide is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral healthcare with a specific set of tools and strategies. It is both a concept and a practice. Its premise is that suicide deaths for people under care are preventable and that the bold goal of zero suicides among persons receiving care is an aspirational challenge that health and behavioral healthcare systems should accept. The Zero Suicide approach aims to improve care and outcomes for individuals at risk of suicide in health and behavioral healthcare systems.  

The promotion of the adoption of “zero suicides” represents a commitment to patient safety – the most fundamental responsibility of health and behavioral healthcare – and also to the safety and support of staff that treats and support suicidal patients. Transforming care to make suicide a never event occurs through leadership, policies, practices, and outcome measurement. Zero Suicide concepts are embedded in the Joint Commissions 2016 sentinel event alert, trauma informed care initiatives and the Excellence in Mental Health Care demonstration project.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention ( is the public-private partnership working to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and make suicide prevention a national priority. Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) operates the Secretariat for the Action Alliance, which was launched in 2010 by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates with the goal of saving 20,000 lives in five years.



Show Me Hope Crisis Counseling flood grant phases down

Disaster services still available for residents

[February 7, 2017, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – In response to the devastating flooding on the eastern side of Missouri in December 2015 and into 2016, the Department of Mental Health partnered with three Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) to operate the Show Me Hope Crisis Counseling program grant.  Places for People in St. Louis County, Crider Center serving Franklin, Lincoln and St. Charles Counties, and Comtrea serving Jefferson County provided crisis outreach to individuals and families impacted by the flooding.

As the Show Me Hope program phases down, crisis counselors are still available and working to connect residents with local community mental health resources.  In addition to services through the local CMHCs, Lutheran Family and Children’s Services is operating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Case Management grant in coordination with the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities of St. Louis.  These agencies are providing long-term recovery case management services.

Individuals who need disaster case management can dial 2-1-1 for more information.  Residents can also contact the Disaster Distress Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-985-5990 or send a text message “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

The Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) assists individuals and families in recovery from disasters.  It is a federal program funded by FEMA and administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The CCP is a short-term disaster relief grant for states, U.S. Territories and federally recognized tribes to run up to a year after the grant is awarded.

For more information contact the CMHC in your area:

Places for People – 314-535-5600

Crider Center – 636-332-6000

Comtrea – 636-931-2700




Kirksville Area Continues to Improve Services to Citizens with Developmental Disabilities

DMH Blue Ribbon Award recognizes communities connecting individuals with disabilities to employment services

[February 1, 2017, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – The Kirksville area of the Central Missouri region received a Blue Ribbon Award today from the Department of Mental Health (DMH).  This area includes Adair, Clark, Grundy, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Mercer, Putnam, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby and Sullivan counties. The award recognizes the efforts to connect more than 25 percent of the individuals it serves to employment services. Two individual service organizations, Adair County Senate Bill 40 Board and Macon County Commission for Developmentally Disabled, received Blue Ribbon Awards in late 2016.  Now the entire Kirksville area has reached Blue Ribbon Status.

The Blue Ribbon Award for Empowering Individuals through Employment is given by the DMH Division of Developmental Disabilities. The employment services, which include career planning, job development/placement and employment supports, enable Missourians with developmental disabilities to find and keep jobs within their communities.

“Individuals with disabilities want jobs where their skills and strengths are recognized and valued,” said Division Director, Valerie Huhn. “Through partnerships with local Senate Bill 40 Boards, Targeted Case Management organizations, community providers, and area businesses,  the state has built a committed team to help individuals gain the skills they need to work, earn money and connect with others to build a better life.” 

Gaining access to employment services is often the first step. Many times, services are only needed for a period of months as the individual learns the duties of a job. Then, they can maintain their job without paid supports.

In the Kirksville area, employers like Sodexo, McDonalds, Loch Haven Nursing Home & Apartments, Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, Colton’s, Home Depot, the Coca Cola Company, C&R Markets Shelbina Villa, Community State Bank and many other businesses are engaged in the practice of hiring individuals with disabilities, making competitive employment an achievable goal. Community providers who support these businesses and make this endeavor successful include: Chariton Valley Association, Wider Opportunities, Learning Opportunities, High Hope Employment Services, Access II and Livingston County Development Center.

Missouri is an Employment First state, meaning that all individuals who want to work can work, when given the opportunity to build upon their unique talents, skills and abilities.




Missouri chosen as one of eight states for a pilot program to provide more access to mental health services

Department of Mental Health Team will lead the program


[January 3, 2017, Jefferson City, Missouri]  The Department of Mental Health is pleased to announcement that Missouri has been chosen as one of eight states to participate in a pilot program expanding access to mental health services in community health clinics.

It’s the next step in the Excellence in Mental Health Act introduced by Senators Roy Blunt, R-MO and Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and signed by President Obama in 2014.

Blunt on Wednesday said that one in four Americans suffer mental health problems but only a fraction get care. The designation of Missouri and the seven other states “will help bridge that gap by expanding and improving access to quality mental and behavioral health care,” he said.vertisement

The seven other states chosen by the Department of Health and Human Services are:  Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. They have until July 1 next year to begin the two-year demonstration programs.

Vikki Wachino, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said the demonstration program will allow states to have more access for behavioral health services for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients, and it “will help individuals with mental and substance use disorders obtain the health care they need to maintain their health and well-being.”


Quotes and information provided by St. Louis Post Dispatch article: