Keeping Mental Health Services Safe

Consumer Safety Comes First!

All consumers who receive services through the Department of Mental Health or the programs it funds are entitled to humane care and treatment from staff who care for or provide services to them. Abuse in any form will not be tolerated.

The Missouri Department of Mental Health has committed to keeping people who receive mental health services safe. You can help by reporting incidents of mistreatment or abuse.

Kinds of Abuse

Abuse takes many forms, but the kinds listed below are the most common.

  • Physical - Beating, striking, wounding, or injuring
  • Sexual - Kissing - Touching of genitals, buttocks, or breasts - Sexual activity - Promoting or observing for sexual purposes any visual or written representation of sexual activity
  • Verbal - Profanity or speaking in a demeaning, threatening, or derogatory manner
  • Neglect - Intimidating behaviors causing fear or undue worry - Failures by staff that cause immediate danger to health, safety, or welfare
  • Misuse of Funds/Property - Stealing or borrowing money or property

Warning Signs of Abuse

  • Bruises, cuts and abrasions
  • An extreme change in behavior
  • Untreated bedsores
  • Lack of necessities such as food, utilities, medications
  • Failure to obtain medical attention
  • Soiled clothing
  • Missing funds or property
  • Loss of interest in self-care
  • Depression
  • Unsafe living conditions

Examples of Abuse

Carmen entered Juan’s room at the residential facility one morning to find her brother had lost consciousness and fallen out of his wheelchair. No one at the facility knew how long he had been on the floor, but they called an ambulance to take him to the hospital right away. Tests showed his blood sugar levels were very very high. The doctor discovered his body had a lot of bruises. When he woke up, Juan told Carmen the nurse on the evening shift hurt him and didn’t give him his evening shot. She had noticed Juan had been very quiet and sad lately, but she thought it was because winter was coming…

Susan receives services through a state-funded program. Her counselor Dan touches her in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable. She asked him to stop. Last night, he asked her to stay after her group session and asked her to touch him inappropriately. Susan is afraid now, and she’s not sure if she can go back to the program…

Help Us Help Others – Report Abuse

  • If you see, hear, or learn of abuse, report it even if you are unsure that abuse has occurred.
  • Missouri law allows the identity of the reporter to remain confidential.
  • Anonymous reports are accepted.
  • The Department of Mental Health will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who reports abuse.
  • Anyone who prevents reporting or interferes with the reporting of abuse may be subject to fines and other criminal penalties.
  • If you receive or a family member receives mental health services and you suspect or experience abuse, please inform the director of the program.
  • If you are unsure or do not know where to report abuse, please contact:
    1. Department of Mental Health Office of Constituent Services toll-free at 1-800-364-9687 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
    2. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services toll-free hotline 1-800-392-0210 24-hour

Following a Report

  • The Department of Mental Health takes all reports of abuse or neglect seriously. Retaliation taken against the individual who reports abuse or the consumer will not be tolerated.
  • Upon receiving a report of suspected abuse or neglect, the program director or head of a facility must take immediate, appropriate action to protect the involved consumer from harm during an investigation.
  • The program director or head of the facility must immediately either initiate a local investigation or request an independent one by the Department of Mental Health Central Office.
  • Upon completion of an investigation, the program director or head of a facility shall provide the consumer, the parent of a minor or, when applicable, a consumer’s legal guardian, with a summary of the facts, circumstances, and actions taken, except that the names of any employees or other consumers shall not be revealed.