MISSOURI (Missourinet).– State Department of Mental Health Director Mark Stringer says mental health providers in rural and urban Missouri are experiencing significant increases in crisis calls and requests for services. During a Capitol press conference, he says state officials recognize the COVID-19 crisis will contribute to increases in depression, anxiety, trauma, grief and other challenges. Gov. Mike Parson has authorized $10 million in federal coronavirus funding to help Missouri’s community behavioral healthcare providers.
“Many of those providers have seen significant losses, along with increased costs. These funds will be essential to preserving access to care during a time when the need has never been greater,” says Stringer.
He says the funds can help with staffing levels, improve technology and boost abilities to reach and serve people through means other than traditional in-person care.
Missouri is also putting $620,000 of CARES Act funding toward continuing a public awareness campaign about suicide prevention.
“We hope to reach all Missourians who are in suicidal crisis as well as their friends and loved ones who can help intervene,” says Stringer. “And we will have a special focus on middle-aged men in rural areas. That group has the highest suicide rate of all.”
The department is once again partnering with the National Crisis Text Line to encourage Missourians to text a counselor when experiencing a crisis. The agency’s information about suicide prevention can be found by clicking here.
Parson has also authorized $20 million in federal aid for Missouri’s behavioral health and developmental disability services. Stringer says the funding is available for qualifying group homes, supported living, adult daycare and employment providers.
“Our contracted community providers, who as a result of the pandemic, have also lost revenue due to disruptions in service while incurring additional costs for things like testing, PPE and overtime,” says Stringer.
Department spokesperson Debra Walker tells Missourinet the information to apply is being sent directly to providers.
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