KY3 partners with other organizations to launch interactive mental health research online

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - May is Mental Health Month and KY3 is teaming up with several community service and healthcare organizations to provide an online resource dedicated to improving mental health in the Ozarks.

It’s free, confidential and comes at a time when the area is experiencing some alarming figures related to depression and suicide.

The Healthy Living Alliance of the Ozarks (HLA) has launched, a comprehensive and interactive resource hub for all of Greene County.

Mental Health 417 is a one-stop resource that includes:

  • Overviews of common mental health disorders.
  • Interactive self-assessments to help you better understand your own mental health needs.
  • A self-care toolbox with local ideas for managing stress and improving your mental wellbeing.
  • Tips for starting conversations about mental health with friends, family, healthcare providers, etc.
  • And a treatment finder to help you get connected to professional mental health care.

This tool was created in response to the mental health crisis that the area is experiencing. According to the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, people in the Springfield Community (Greene, Christian, and Webster counties) experience poor mental health at a higher rate than people in the rest of Missouri and the United States.

More than 24% of people in the Springfield Community experience depression, compared to 21% in Missouri and 18% in the U.S. Additionally, the rate of deaths from suicide is 20% higher than the Missouri average and 60% higher than the U.S. average.

“The two indicators we look at show that not only are depression rates higher but also suicide rates are higher,” said Cara Erwin, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s Wellness Coordinator. “And that’s sort of the ultimate crisis when we get to the point where we’re seeing higher rates of suicide than other communities our size. That’s really concerning.”

The hope is that no matter what stage of mental wellness a person is at, whether they are experiencing unusually high amounts of stress or a mental health crisis, the hub can connect them with the resources or services they need. The hub also aims to normalize prioritizing mental health and reduce the stigma around seeking care. The goal of this initiative is to provide steps that people can take to halt the progression of the poor mental health before they reach crisis.

One of the first things a person can do on the website is access a “mental health check-in” that starts with just one question:

How are you feeling today?

There are five choices and when you pick an answer it explains to you what your choice could indicate and delves into the matter more with other queries.

“It’s not going to diagnose you,” Erwin pointed out. “It’s just going to provide a screening to be able to help get you started.”

There’s also a self-care toolbox that provides insight on how to talk to someone else about how you’re feeling, local places you can go to improve your mood and other ways to manage your stress involving building healthy routines related to sleeping, exercise, diet, keeping a journal or maintaining a positive living space.

The website also runs through the different kinds of mental health illnesses and the many local resources available for help whether it’s in-person or online.

“We know we have a lot of mental health care providers in our community but we just need to know we’re connecting people to them,” Erwin explained. “Unfortunately mental health still comes with a stigma and that’s what we’re trying to address. We’re trying to normalize the process of understanding that you have a mental health concern and normalize the process of seeking care. And seeking care isn’t the same for everybody. There’s not a one-size-fits-all. It could be getting connected with a local mental health provider or something as simple as going fishing with buddies or understanding things that help bring your stress-rate down.”

This information is valuable to everyone no matter what their age but it comes just days after the CDC announced that 30 percent of teenage girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021.

And that’s not the only age-group that’s seen a major rise in suicides.

“We have a large number of adult men who have attempted or completed suicide,” Erwin said. “Whether you’re a young woman or a middle-aged man we’re trying to get you the tools and the treatment that you need to be able to address your issues.”

The HLA is a coalition of organizations working to develop and sustain a healthy community where everyone can thrive. HLA members who collaborated on the Mental Health 417 initiative include:

  • Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
  • Community Partnership of the Ozarks.
  • Springfield-Greene County Health.
  • Burrell Behavioral Health.
  • CoxHealth.
  • Mercy.
  • Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
  • NAMI of Southwest Missouri.
  • KY3.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.

To report a correction or typo, please email