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Gov. Nixon Announces Caring for Missourians: Mental Health to Prepare More Students for Careers in High-Demand Mental Health Care Fields

Press Release

Location: Kansas City, MO

Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that his balanced budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015 will include $20 million in grants for Missouri's public colleges and universities to educate an additional 1,200 students for careers in high-demand mental health care fields through the Governor's Caring for Missourians: Mental Health initiative.

"From teaching a child with autism how to interact with peers, to working with law enforcement to respond to a parent in mental health crisis, these health professionals will build on the work we've already done to strengthen communities and make sure Missourians have access to the care they need," Gov. Nixon said. "With our economy continuing to pick up steam, this strategic investment will help Missourians with mental and developmental challenges live up to their God-given potential, while creating more high-paying jobs in our communities."

The Governor made his announcement during a visit to the University of Missouri - Kansas City's School of Nursing and Health Studies. Under the Governor's Caring for Missourians: Mental Health proposal, UMKC would receive a $4,156,400 grant to train clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists and advanced nurse practitioners. These funds will help the school hire new faculty, expand programs and purchase cutting-edge equipment to train additional mental health professionals.

The Governor said the initiative would help to address a critical shortage of mental health professionals to provide treatment and support to Missourians with developmental disabilities, mental illness or substance abuse disorders. For example, 104 Missouri counties and most of St. Louis City are designated by the federal government as mental health professional shortage areas. Seventy-two counties of Missouri's 114 counties lack a licensed psychiatrist. And while applied behavior analysis is one of the most effective tools for treating autism spectrum disorders, 90 of Missouri's 114 counties do not have a resident licensed analyst to provide this treatment.

"Here at UMKC, we greatly appreciate Gov. Nixon's strong commitment to higher education and to caring for our most vulnerable citizens," said Leo E. Morton, Chancellor of UMKC. "Thanks to support from Gov. Nixon's administration, UMKC's School of Nursing and Health Studies is now able to offer a master's degree with an emphasis in mental health care to help address the need for diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. This latest proposal would help more of our graduates pursue these life-saving careers while strengthening Missouri's mental health care system."

The Governor was also joined by representatives of Metropolitan Community College, where Caring for Missourians: Mental Health would invest $439,892 to expand mental health training opportunities for students studying to become occupational therapist assistants; establish a loan forgiveness program for nursing students who pursue careers in mental health; offer nursing students a mental health tech certificate; and establish new mental health simulation labs for nursing and allied health students.

Under the Governor's Caring for Missourians: Mental Health proposal, a number of Missouri public colleges and universities would receive grants, including:

Missouri State University $1,667,930
Southeast Missouri State University $1,347,596
University of Central Missouri $610,940
University of Missouri -- Kansas City $4,156,400
University of Missouri -- St. Louis $ 1,676,307
University of Missouri -- Columbia $6,429,588
Truman State University $520,524
Lincoln University $172,960
Northwest Missouri State University $216,200
Crowder College $216,076
East Central College $74,453
Jefferson College $301,410
Mineral Area College $195,803
Moberly Area Community College $167,283
Metropolitan Community College $439,892
North Central Missouri College $114,071
Ozarks Technical Community College $579,228
St. Charles Community College $155,000
State Fair Community College $91,585
St. Louis Community College $349,900
Three Rivers College $308,965

Launched by Gov. Nixon in 2009, Caring for Missourians is a strategic effort to increase the number of health care professionals being educated at Missouri's public colleges and universities. Since 2009, $40 million has been invested in Missouri's two- and four-year institutions of higher learning to help 1,500 more Missourians pursue careers as nurses, physicians, dentists and other health professionals.

Improving care for Missourians with mental and developmental challenges has been a top priority of Gov. Nixon and his administration. In 2010, Gov. Nixon launched Missouri's Partnership for Hope to help thousands of Missourians with developmental disabilities live fuller lives. Prior to implementation of the Partnership for Hope, demand for home- and community-based services resulted in a large backlog of Missouri families waiting for help. Because of the backlog, many families waited years to receive the services they needed. Currently, the Partnership for Hope is serving more than 2,700 people with developmental disabilities in 99 counties statewide and the City of St. Louis.

Gov. Nixon implemented a $10 million strategic initiative to help identify and treat people with severe mental illness before they reach crisis point, and help communities respond to those who do. The Governor's initiative included placing Mental Health Liaisons at each of the 29 Community Mental Health Centers across Missouri; an expansion of Crisis Intervention and Mental Health First-Aid training throughout the state; and resources for emergency room intervention teams to work with patients needing coordinated care.

Recently, Gov. Nixon announced his proposal for a strategic bond issuance that will make the resources available for the construction of a new high- and intermediate-security psychiatric facility at Fulton State Hospital. Built in 1851, the Fulton State Hospital is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi River and houses the state's only maximum security psychiatric facility.

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