MO Mental Health System Still Facing Challenges

Nov 15, 2011

A report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, said Missouri will see a slight increase in next year’s funding for mental health treatment and services. Despite this, the report said the state is still in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The report was conducted in response to the economic downturn and reduction of state mental health care budgets nationwide. NAMI Missouri Executive Director Cynthia Keele said they assessed the impact of cuts in each state to put together a snapshot of mental health care across the country. Keele stressed the importance of looking at the state’s history in relation to this year’s gain.

“This past funding year Missouri did receive a small increase in mental health funding but its very important to say that that follows 4 consecutive years of cuts. ”

Keele said those who are newly diagnosed and uninsured and individuals who have been recently released from jail or prison are the most vulnerable in Missouri

But, she said it could be worse…

“One of the good things is that when cuts were made our governor allowed our state dept of mental health to say ‘here’s where we should make the cuts in order to cause the least amount of harm. ’”

Keele said there are some specific populations in Missouri that need extra attention. Those affected by the Joplin tornado have significant mental health needs. She also said of all the states, Missouri members of National Guard had the highest rates of suicide in 2010. The Missouri National Guard said they've only had one suicide this year.