2021 News Releases


New Developmental Disabilities Division Director Named

Bax to provide new leadership for DMH

April 08 2021 - Jefferson City, MO —

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is pleased to announce Jessica Bax as the new Director of its Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD), effective May 10, 2021. 

Ms. Bax joins the DMH team with more than 16 years of experience in state government at the Department of Health and Senior Services.  She began her tenure in 2005 working in the Division of Senior and Disability Services. She served in various roles in the Division Director’s office including Constituent and Emergency Services Manager and Bureau Chief of Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports.  Ms. Bax worked her way into leadership roles becoming the Deputy Director and then ultimately the Division Director in 2018.

Ms. Bax has extensive experience and knowledge of Medicaid and social service programs as well as the budget and legislative process. She works collaboratively with state and local agencies and successfully built partnerships with stakeholders.  Ms. Bax has excellent networking and research connections to identify national best practices.

Ms. Bax has a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Lincoln University and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Ms. Bax is replacing Valerie Huhn who was named Deputy Director of DMH in October 2020. 

For more information contact Debra Walker at (573) 751-1647 or debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov.


Governor Mike Parson Joins the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families

April 01 2021 - Jefferson City , MO —

Continuing the state’s efforts to prevent suicide, Missouri Governor Mike Parson has agreed to participate in the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families, a partnership through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The Governor’s Challenge is designed to provide intensive technical support and assist states in implementing best practices around suicide prevention for service members, Veterans, and their families.

“Although Missouri has already begun to implement suicide prevention efforts, participation in this initiative will allow us to further implement best policies and practices and advance our suicide prevention efforts for service members, Veterans, their families and all Missourians,” said Governor Parson.

As part of this initiative, Missouri has developed a team to ensure cross-agency collaboration. Members of the state team include Legislators and representatives from Department of Mental Health, Missouri Veterans Commission, Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, Department of Social Services, Department of Corrections, University of Missouri – St. Louis: Missouri Institute for Mental health, American Legion – Missouri, St. Louis VA System of Care, Missouri AgrAbility Project, Missouri Office of State Courts Administrators, Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and other community providers.

Missouri is one of only eight states selected for the Governor’s Challenge in 2021. To learn more about the Governor’s Challenge visit www.samhsa.gov/smvf-ta-center/mayors-governors-challenges.

For more information about the program contact Jon Sabala at  jon.sabala@dmh.mo.gov or Debra Walker at 573-751-1647, e-mail debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov.


Telemedicine Partnership with StationMD Extends

Residents with Disabilities will receive services through February 2022

March 22 2021 - , MO —

In April of 2020, the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities launched a partnership with StationMD to ensure that all 15,000 Missouri residents with disabilities who are on a Medicaid Waiver have 24/7 access to a doctor anytime they need.

After nine months of successful utilization of StationMD’s specialized telehealth service across the state, the Division has awarded a new request for proposal to StationMD, extending the program through February 2022.

StationMD is a physician practice that uses telemedicine to deliver urgent/emergency clinical care diversion and coordination care services exclusively to people with disabilities—including intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). As one of the only physician practices in the country where every doctor in the group is specially trained to manage care specifically for people with disabilities, StationMD provides a unique offering.

According to an alarming study just released by the New England Journal of Medicine, having an intellectual disability is one of the highest risk factors other than age for COVID-19 mortality. The chances of dying from COVID-19 are higher for those with an intellectual disability than they are for people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease or lung disease, so the impact of the state’s collaboration with StationMD extends beyond convenience. The service has been a life-saving measure for both individuals and support staff.

Venturing out to the doctor’s office or hospital for non-life-threatening medical concerns is challenging for many people with disabilities on a regular day. Given the pandemic, masking requirements and mandatory quarantine periods, people with disabilities are often forced to forego their medical care altogether. Bringing the doctor upstream and keeping individuals in their home setting, protects the patient and the ecosystem of support professionals and family members who may be involved with their care.

StationMD can be utilized for urgent matters like fever and vomiting, a seizure, a rash, or a fall, but also for someone who has a medical question or needs a prescription refilled. StationMD doctors can also help with behavioral and mental health issues in many circumstances. In ~90% of StationMD’s virtual consultations, the doctor can address and individual’s medical issue without them ever leaving the comfort and safety of home.

Valerie Huhn, Division Director and Department Deputy Director, said, “Keeping people out of the ER when they don’t need to be there not only relieves pressure off of hospitals that are stretched thin treating both regular emergencies and COVID patients, but it offers a huge savings to patients and to the state. We have been able to optimize taxpayer dollars and the result is that Missourians with IDD are receiving medical attention they need from their homes.”

Dr. Maulik Trivedi, MD, Chief Strategy Officer at StationMD said, “This partnership with the Division has enabled the health system to flex to be more patient-centric and to meet the needs of people in both rural and urban areas who have unique challenges and require specialized medical care. The Division is truly visionary in its pandemic response and has implemented a solution that not only protects this vulnerable population from COVID-19 but eases the burden on Missouri’s entire health system.”

All 15,000 of Missouri’s Medicaid Waiver recipients are already enrolled to use StationMD’s service. Once the system is activated with a phone call, they can reach a StationMD doctor anytime they need to through the app or a designated 800 phone number. If StationMD determines any patient physically needs to see a doctor, they coordinate with local emergency departments to prepare for their arrival and coordinate with the patient’s primary care physician to ensure continuity of care. 


Department of Mental Health Receives 988 State Planning Grant from Vibrant Emotional Health

Grant Will Prepare Missouri for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 Dialing Code, Effective July 2022

February 04 2021 - Jefferson City, MO —

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is pleased to announce it received the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 State Planning Grant through Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline). The grant allows DMH to participate in the development of strategic plans for Missouri in preparation for the projected infrastructure needs, volume growth, and access to the Lifeline’s new 988 number. Vibrant has awarded grants to 49 states and territories. 

In July 2022, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Americans needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.

“Access to mental health and crisis support has never been more critical for Americans,” said Kimberly Williams, President and CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health.  “Vibrant is committed to providing the states and territories with some of the resources they'll need to plan for the implementation of 988 and to support their local crisis centers. By working together, we will increase access to care, reduce the stigma around mental health and, ultimately, save lives.”

DMH and partnering agencies will develop clear roadmaps to address coordination, capacity, funding, and communications surrounding the launch of 988. DMH will collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience, and others to create a 988 implementation plan and support the Lifeline’s operational, clinical, and performance standards that allow access to care. 

Vibrant believes the new 988 number, once implemented, will ensure the Lifeline will continue to be America’s mental health safety net by providing emotional support for people in distress, reducing suicides and mental health crises, and providing a pathway to well-being for all. 

About the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention and mental health crisis care. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 180 local crisis centers, uniting local resources with national best practices. Since its inception in 2005, the Lifeline has engaged in innovative public messaging, development of best practices in mental health, creative partnerships, and more to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all. suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

About Vibrant Emotional Health 

Vibrant Emotional Health is a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families achieve emotional wellbeing. For over 50 years, our groundbreaking solutions have delivered high-quality services and support, when, where and how people need it. We offer confidential emotional support through our state-of-the-art contact center and crisis hotline services that use leading edge telephone, text and web-based technologies and include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, NFL Life Line and NYC Well. Through our community wellness programs individuals and families obtain supports and skills they need to thrive. Our advocacy and education initiatives promote mental wellbeing as a social responsibility. Each year we help more than 2.5 million people live healthier and more vibrant lives. We’re advancing access, dignity and respect for all and revolutionizing the system for good. Visit vibrant.org. And follow Vibrant on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Missouri Department of Mental Health merges adult St. Louis Psychiatric Hospitals

One Forensic Treatment Center, two campuses, brings staffing and operation efficiencies

January 08 2021 - Jefferson City, MO —

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) has officially merged the two St. Louis adult psychiatric hospitals into one entity called the St. Louis Forensic Treatment Center, with “North” and “South” as an additional designation for the campuses.  The North Campus is the former St. Louis Metropolitan Psychiatric Center on Delmar Street and the South Campus is the former St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center on Arsenal Street. 

The new name acknowledges that both facilities have a long history of providing specialty behavioral health treatment for individuals whose mental illness has brought them into the criminal justice system resulting in a commitment to DMH.

By combining the two hospitals for a total of 230 patient beds, the department will be able to take advantage of natural efficiencies across both campuses and the clinical expertise within each.  The single facility will provide improved services and continuity of care to patients as they progress through treatment and resolve their criminal charges, while assuring public safety concerns continue to be successfully addressed as individuals are reintegrated into the community.

For more information, contact Debra Walker at 573-751-1647 or email debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov.