Gov. Nixon hopes to prepare more students for careers in high-demand mental health care fields

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

â??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 weâ??ve already done to strengthen communities and make sure Missourians have access to the care they need,â?? Gov. Nixon said. â??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.â??

The Governor made his announcement during a visit to the University of Missouri - Kansas Cityâ??s School of Nursing and Health Studies Wednesday. Under the Governorâ??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 Missouriâ??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 Missouriâ??s 114 counties do not have a resident licensed analyst to provide this treatment.

â??Here at UMKC, we greatly appreciate Gov. Nixonâ??s strong commitment to higher education and to caring for our most vulnerable citizens,â?? said Leo E. Morton, Chancellor of UMKC. â??Thanks to support from Gov. Nixonâ??s administration, UMKCâ??s School of Nursing and Health Studies is now able to offer a masterâ??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 Missouriâ??s mental health care system.â??

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 Governorâ??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 â?? St. Louis $1,676,307

University of Missouri â?? 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 Missouriâ??s public colleges and universities. Since 2009, $40 million has been invested in Missouriâ??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.

In 2010, Gov. Nixon launched Missouriâ??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 Governorâ??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.