SPS and Burrell Behavioral Health expand mental health services

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - This spring, Burrell Behavioral Health will focus on staffing Hillcrest High School and it's feeder schools with additional onsite therapeutic and case management services. The expansion will also include training and consultation for school faculty, if necessary. Burrell estimated anywhere from five to ten percent of students will benefit from the expansion.

With the expansion, school counselors will write referrals for certain students to see Burrell professionals. Rhonda Mammen, the Director of Counseling Services for the district, said this will help make sure all students are getting the attention they need. "Our district average is over 350 students per counselor," said Mammen. "It's very, very difficult for them to reach everyone and especially those who have ongoing issues."

The expansion is possible because of a change in Medicaid in 2018. Last year, the rule for Medicaid eligible services for Missouri students was revised and expanded to allow behavioral health services to be reimbursed in schools. This change opened the door for providers to assist students by providing services within the school setting for a range of mental health issues.

Doctor C.J. Davis, the President and CEO of Burrell, talked about the expansion, saying, "offering access to services in local school buildings ensures immediate professional resources for educators, students and their families, which reduces stigma and can ultimately save lives."

Burrell therapists and caseworkers practice trauma-informed care, which recognizes that people often have many different types of trauma in their lives and need support and compassion from those around them. Burrell providers assist with diagnosing and treating depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, and more. Burrell's school-based services department partners with nearly 30 school districts across central and southwest Missouri with the goal of increasing rapid access to mental health care.

So, How long until we see these Burrell professionals and this expansion across all Springfield Public Schools?
"We'll evaluate and see what the next expansion should look like," explained Dr. Mike Dawson, Chief Learning Officer for Springfield Public Schools. "Should it be another feeder pattern? Should it be some different at-risk elementary schools? Should we look at just the middle schools? We want to learn from this experience before we start designing the second expansion."

Schools impacted by this current expansion include Bowerman, Fremont, Hillcrest, Pleasant View, Reed, Robberson, Truman, Watkins and Williams.

Facts about Mental Health from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- One in five people will have a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lives. 50% of those people will demonstrate warning signs in their child and adolescent years.
- Approximately one in five youth, ages 13-18, experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children ages eight to 15, the estimate is 13%.
- 50% of those with a diagnosable behavioral health issue never seek treatment.
- There currently is an eight to ten year gap between warning signs of a mental health need and their first intervention.
- 16.2% of Missouri high school students seriously considered suicide in 2015.
- 27.5% of Missouri high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2015.
- 45,000 children and adolescents in Missouri are estimated to struggle with anxiety.