2022 News Releases



Missouri Taskforce releases Guide for Dual Diagnosis Best Practices

Clinical support for people with co-occurring behavioral health symptoms and intellectual/developmental disabilities. 

December 12 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

The Missouri Alliance for Dual Diagnosis (MOADD) Taskforce announces the release of its Best Practices Guidebook. The objective of the MOADD Taskforce is to research, define and describe best clinical practices to support people with co-occurring mental/behavioral health symptoms and a diagnosed intellectual/developmental disability (IDD), including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

In Missouri, on average 37 percent of individuals with IDD in residential services also have a co-occurring mental health or substance use concern. The MOADD Taskforce, comprised of 25 members, convened in March 2019 and began to create consolidated resources and decision aids to guide treatment consideration for individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and behavioral health dual diagnoses.

“We know that individuals with IDD can be successful in behavioral health treatment,” said Valerie Huhn, Director of the Department of Mental Health (DMH). “The department is committed to building bridges across the division silos and ultimately creating a holistic system that seamlessly meets the needs of Missourians with IDD and behavioral health needs across the lifespan.”

“Individuals will benefit and avoid crisis situations as a result of advanced treatment and support from better informed clinicians,” said Dr. Angeline Stanislaus, DMH Chief Medical Director.

The Best Practices Guidebook includes approach considerations, supporting literature, and information to make informed support and treatment decisions.  The guidelines identify safety concerns, treatment approaches, biological and psychosocial factors, trauma, interventions, and case vignettes for four behavioral combinations (anxiety, substance use, aggression and depression) with developmental/intellectual disabilities.

“Healthcare professionals are busier now more than ever, so to make the information more accessible, a MOADD app was developed,” said Jessica Bax, Director of DMH Division of Developmental Disabilities.   “The app provides all of the information in a real time decision-making format.”  See the image below to access the app.

“The app marries the comprehensive resources available in a convenient, immediate, and tech-friendly spot,” said Nora Bock, Director of DMH Division of Behavioral Health. “These guidelines highlight that people are more alike than different and that enhanced skill sets improve services delivered to those with complex conditions.”

See the image below to access the app.

The complete MOADD Best Practices Guidebook can be found at: https://dmh.mo.gov/moadd. For more information contact Debra Walker debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov or 573-751-1647.

MOADD App Image

The Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families launches a Safety Plan Video

The brief training helps individuals support friends, family or loved ones with a safety plan.

October 04 2022 - , MO —

The Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families is launching a new training video intended to help individuals support someone they know who may be struggling with a suicidal crisis and has a safety plan.  A safety plan is a brief intervention to help those experiencing self-harm and suicidal thoughts. It has coping strategies and resources an individual can use to decrease their risk of suicidal behavior and consists of six steps: warning signs, internal coping strategies, people and social settings that provide distraction, people to ask for help during crisis, professionals or agencies to contact during a crisis, and ways to make the environment safer.

The video is accessible to anyone who wants to view it on the MO.gov YouTube channel. It is intended to complement existing suicide prevention training. Organizations providing suicide prevention training are encouraged to use this video to help individuals better prepare for how to support someone that has a safety plan. 

The Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Missouri began participating in this program in early 2021. Governor Mike Parson’s Team consists of members from the Governor’s Office, Department of Mental Health, Department of Social Services, Missouri Veterans Commission, Office of State Courts Administrators, Missouri National Guard, Department of Corrections, Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development, American Legion-Missouri, Compass Health Network, Missouri AgrAbility, Missouri Behavioral Health Council, Missouri Institute of Mental Health-Safer Homes Collaborative, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

For more information contact Jon Sabala in DMH Veterans Services at DMH.Veteran@dmh.mo.gov.


Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders focuses on a “Roadmap” for all Missourians with Autism.

Phases over the next four years hope to make an impact for individuals with autism and their families.

July 27 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

The new Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders began meeting in January 2022 with a renewed focus on its mission and to produce an “Autism Roadmap for Missouri” to cover the lifespan of every person living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

This roadmap will discuss best practices for care and services within healthcare, education, vocational support, and community resources. The Commission’s efforts will include a targeted review of existing autism resources, initiatives and funding; identify unmet needs and gaps; and provide tangible recommendations for system improvements.  Guided by House Bill 432 the Commission’s work will be conducted in four phases for those living with ASD: 1) transitioning to adulthood; 2) early identification and intervention; 3) access to care; and 4) challenging behaviors and crisis care.

The Commission will submit a report to the Governor and the Director of the Department of Mental Health upon completion of each phase. A final document summarizing all completed tasks will be submitted at the completion of all the phases.

About ASD:

ASD is a complex developmental disability, referring to a broad range of conditions characterized by difficulties with social interactions, challenging and repetitive behaviors, and difficulties with speech and communication. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely from mild impairment to significant cognitive, behavioral, and physical impairment.

There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Due to the unique range of needs and challenges among individuals with ASD, there is no one-size fits all treatment either.  ASD treatment often consists of a combination of therapies, interventions, and medications.  ASD treatment goals include maximizing an individual’s ability to function independently and enhancing their development and learning.  Early intervention and ongoing support can help individuals learn critical social, communication, and behavior skills. 

The following is the list of members on the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Dr. John Mantovani (Chair), Mercy Kids Autism Center

Dr. Cy Nadler, Children’s Mercy Hospital

Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf, Thompson Center

Dr. Seth Allen, Burrell Behavioral Health

Dr. Kristin Sohl, University of Missouri – School of Medicine

Jeanne Marshall, Easterseals Midwest

Tim Dygon, The Arc of the Ozarks

Laci Maltbie, Sherwood Autism Center

Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center

Dr. Loretta Fuge, Greater Ozarks Rural Psychologist

Luke Daily, Vocational Rehabilitation

Kandice LaGasse, Preferred Family Healthcare

Dr. Lateshia Woodley, Kansas City Public Schools

Dr. Ben O’Connor, BDJ Special Education Cooperative

Summer Bridges, Parent

Rev. Dale Stone, Parent

Claire Ridgeway, Individual with Autism

Spencer Hunley, Individual with Autism

Mark Wheatley, Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education

Dr. Lindsay Athamanah, University of Missouri – St. Louis/Dept. Higher Education and Workforce Development

Paula Darr, Dept. Health and Senior Services

Johanna Bisges, Dept. of Social Services

Carrie Couch, Dept. of Commerce and Insurance

Jo LeDuc, Dept. of Commerce and Insurance

Kristin Morgan, Dept. of Mental Health, Office of Autism Services

Kerri Tesreau, Dept. of Mental Health, Director’s Office

The next meeting of the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders is Thursday, July 28 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, in person at the Department of Health and Senior Services at 930 Wildwood Dr., Jefferson City. A Webex option can be found here: https://www.mo.gov/meetings/open-meeting-details?id=15296

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


Governor Parson Announces 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to go Live in Missouri July 16

Beginning Saturday the new three digit number will serve individuals in mental health crisis

July 15 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

On July 16, 2022, the newly designated 9-8-8, three-digit number, will route individuals to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where compassionate, accessible care and support are available 24/7 for anyone experiencing a mental health, suicide, or substance use crisis. The 988 line is confidential and free for all. The Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, will continue to function. After July 16, 2022, both numbers will connect individuals to the same services.

"The launch of the 988 crisis line will establish a more streamlined and effective resource for Missourians in behavioral health crisis," Governor Parson said. "We know that when individuals are experiencing crisis the sooner we can connect them to support and provide assistance the better. The launch of 988 is an important step in addressing the mental health crisis and saving lives."

The 988 line will be the first step to engage individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. There are seven crisis centers in Missouri responsible for answering 988 contacts for the state. The trained crisis specialists at each center will listen, work to understand how the individual’s problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources. Crisis specialists will also have the ability to dispatch mobile crisis response teams for additional crisis response wherever the crisis is occurring in the community and based on the needs of the person.

“The Missouri Department of Mental Health is seizing this opportunity to advance current crisis services towards an evidence-based care continuum prepared to deliver high-quality behavioral health services statewide,” said DMH Director Valerie Huhn. “Providing consistent crisis care and support will be integral to reducing the burden on and misuse of law enforcement/emergency response and other public health services.”

While 988 is a national initiative, it is up to each state to ensure crisis services are available to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. After nearly two years of planning and preparation, Missouri’s 988 centers are prepared and ready to answer the projected 253,000 contacts (calls, texts, and chats) expected in the first year of the 988 implementation. 

For more information on 988 in Missouri, please visit https://dmh.mo.gov/behavioral-health/988-suicide-and-crisis-lifeline.

Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis? Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out by calling or texting 988, or chatting at https://988lifeline.org/.

Provided is a link to the 988 media toolkit: https://sites.google.com/view/mdmh988toolkit/home.


Governor Parson Orders Capitol Dome Lighted Green in Recognition of Children's Mental Health Week

May 04 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

Governor Mike Parson has ordered the Missouri State Capitol dome lighted green beginning at sunset on Thursday, May 5, 2022, until sunrise on Friday, May 6, 2022, in recognition of Children’s Mental Health Week.  

“We must talk about mental health and the importance of having resources available for our men, women, and children who are hurting,” Governor Parson said. “Our administration, in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health, is committed to sharing resources and providing treatment to those struggling with mental health. I want to remind anyone who is out there struggling to reach out: you are not alone.” 

Last week, Governor Parson proclaimed May 2022 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Missouri. Approximately one in six children and youth have a diagnosable mental illness, and 50 percent of those with lifetime mental health challenges first experience symptoms by age 14.

“The month of May is a great time to shine a light on the importance of mental health for children, youth, and all citizens of Missouri,” said Department of Mental Health Director Valerie Huhn. “We look forward to seeing the Capitol dome lighted green for mental health awareness.”

For more information on available mental health resources, please visit https://dmh.mo.gov/.

Pictures of the dome lighting will be available on Governor Parson's Flickr page


Mental Health Awareness Month is the Time to Learn about Trauma Informed Care

DMH E-Learning Trauma Informed Care modules are FREE and teach how trauma impacts people and communities, and how they can recover.

May 03 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

The State of Missouri has experienced its share of disasters; floods, severe storms, tornados, accidents and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether natural or human-made, disasters can impact communities and the people that live in them in many different ways.  With Governor Mike Parson proclaiming May 2022 as Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a great time to also learn about Trauma Informed Care.

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) recently launched new Trauma Informed Care E-Learning Courses, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) through the Disaster Response State Grant.  These courses are designed to educate the public on trauma and its effects on mental health.

There are three courses available. 1) The first is geared toward adults interested in learning more about trauma informed care, how trauma impacts people and communities and what recovery can look like and where people can get help; 2) The second course is geared toward young, teenage individuals to provide basic information about adverse childhood experiences and protective factors that help teens recover from adversity and traumatic stress; and 3) the third course is for professionals who provide care or services to people to keep them safe and to help them recover and heal from stressful events and traumatic situations. It highlights ways workplaces can shift policies, procedures and practices to offer more trauma sensitive services and support to their workforce.

The goal is to use these courses to raise awareness and literacy around trauma prevention and response, and to guide people to helpful resources like Mental Health First Aid. The courses will promote preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery for families and communities.

Trauma-Informed Care FREE E-Learning Courses

Adult Course – 30 minute course + quiz

Teen Course – 30 minute course + quiz

Helping Professional Course – 60 minute course + quiz, certificate of completion available

There are a few simple steps for the DMH Trauma Informed Care FREE E-Learning Courses!

*          Click on the link or copy it into a web browser (ex: Google Chrome):

           Trauma Informed Care Courses (thinkific.com).

*          Click on “Take the Course.”

*          Go to “Create a new account.”

*          Type in your first and last names, an email address and create a password.

*          Once your information is entered it will take you to a screen to “View more Courses.”

*          This will take you to the three E-Learning courses available.

Signing in creates a dashboard for you to keep track of your learning module progress.

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


Governor Parson Proclaims May as Mental Health Awareness Month

Children’s Mental Health Week is May 1-7.

April 29 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

Governor Parson has proclaimed May 2022, as Mental Health Awareness Month in Missouri.  The Department of Mental Health (DMH) in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Missouri, as well as other agencies, are committed to sharing resources, providing treatment and help to those in need, and promoting public understanding of mental health conditions.

Children’s Mental Health Week is May 1-7.  This week will be celebrated with the #Ring4Hope event at 1:30 p.m. carried LIVE on the NAMI Missouri Facebook and the lighting of the Capitol Dome in green on Thursday, May 5. 

Did you know:

  • approximately one in six children and youth have a diagnosable mental illness;
  • four million children and adolescents in this country suffer from a serious mental; disorder that causes significant functional impairments at home, at school and with peers;
  • fifty percent of those with lifetime mental health challenges first experience symptoms by the age of 14; and
  • one in four American adults experiences an episode of mental illness every year.

During the month of May, shine a light on the importance of mental health for the children, youth and all citizens of Missouri. For more information contact Debra Walker at 573-751-1647 or debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov.


Missouri Department of Mental Health Establishes First of Its Kind Apprenticeship Program for Direct Support Professionals

DMH's Division of Developmental Disabilities Develops Missouri Talent Pathways to Address Health Care Workforce Shortages 

April 04 2022 - Jefferson City, MO —

Today, Governor Mike Parson announced that in response to the continuing challenges of accessing an available and skilled workforce, the Department of Mental Health (DMH), Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD), has developed Missouri Talent Pathways, an initiative to recruit and retain a highly skilled and dedicated workforce.

The first of its kind in the nation, Missouri Talent Pathways was recently approved by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. Talent Pathways is now a registered apprenticeship program which blends on the job mentoring with technical instruction and culminates in participants receiving a certificate as a Certified Direct Support Professional. As a registered apprenticeship intermediary, the Division and its community partners will have access to an expanded applicant pool, traditional workforce development programs, and a career ladder framework for direct support professionals.

“This registered apprenticeship will increase career opportunities to more Missourians and is a great example of the kind of innovation that occurs in state government,” Governor Parson said. “It's programs like this one, that allow Missouri to consistently rank among the top states for apprenticeship opportunities. We look forward to this program helping expand health care workforce solutions while improving our ability to care for some of Missouri's most vulnerable citizens."

“The public health emergency truly magnified the impact of the staffing crisis within DMH and our community partners,” DMH Director Valerie Huhn said. “This apprenticeship is a piece of the larger solution to help us stabilize the direct support professional workforce by constructing a solid career pathway.”

Other objectives of the Missouri Talent Pathways Apprenticeship include: increasing competency of national best practices and statewide applicability and portability; improving cost and time efficiencies; and expanding talent pipelines.

Specifics for stakeholders, community partners, state agencies, and national partners regarding the process to apply for this registered apprenticeship can be found here.   

For more information from the Department of Mental Health go to https://dmh.mo.gov/dev-disabilities/service-providers/talent-pathways or contact Debra Walker at debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov, or 573-751-1647. For information about Registered Apprenticeships in Missouri, visit https://dhewd.mo.gov/apprenticeship_missouri.php.


DMH Veterans Services and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1003 Pilot the Prevention Advocate Volunteer

New volunteer position within veteran service organizations will help address mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention in the military community.

February 01 2022 - Jefferson City , MO —

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) -Veterans Services is piloting a new initiative in central Missouri that creates a volunteer position within veteran organizations called the Prevention Advocate. These volunteers will raise awareness about the behavioral health issues facing service members, Veterans and their families, promote/host prevention-related trainings, and be a resource for members that are looking to connect with local behavioral health providers for non-emergency needs.

To prepare volunteers for their role, two trainings will be required:

Mental Health First Aid® a skills-based training that teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of a mental health or substance use challenge in adults ages 18 and over. 

Question Persuade Refer (QPR) Gatekeeper Training assists participants in learning how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. 

The Prevention Advocate, working closely with the DMH-Veterans Services, will:

  • promote awareness and education about mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention through the organization’s media platforms; and
  • display materials (brochures and handouts) about local federal and state resources; and
  • host behavioral health related training events which may be virtual or in person, at no cost to the participants, and open to the general public (non-members).

It is important to understand the Prevention Advocate role:

  • is NOT to be used for individuals in crisis or to take the place of a crisis hotline; and
  • is NOT a clinician and cannot provide treatment of any kind.

Future plans for this initiative are to expand these volunteer positions into veteran service organizations across the state.

Anyone in a crisis or who needs to speak with a counselor can text MOSAFE to 741-741 or by dialing 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans press 1). You’re not alone, there is help available.

For more information contact Jon Sabala at DMH at 573-751-2368 or DMH.Veteran@dmh.mo.gov.

FacebookTwitter: @dmhveteran