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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Sen. Blunt conducts mental-services roundtable

  • Mark Twain Behavioral Health in Hannibal is a busy place. That could be one reason U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt chose to conduct a mental-services roundtable at the Broadway facility on Tuesday afternoon.
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  • Mark Twain Behavioral Health in Hannibal is a busy place. That could be one reason U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt chose to conduct a mental-services roundtable at the Broadway facility on Tuesday afternoon.
    “I’m sitting down with people who are taking responsibility for being on the front lines for behavior health issues and talking with them about what they’re doing, what they need, and among other things how that might relate to veterans and their families,” said Blunt, whose tour of mental health sites also includes stops in Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Joplin, Kirksville, Columbia, St. Joseph and Kansas City.
    The demand for mental health services is on the rise locally, according to Mike Cantrell, CEO of Mark Twain Behavioral Health in Hannibal.
    “We serve nearly 3,000 every year and the number is going up,” he said. “We’re getting more calls from all nine counties we serve requesting mental health services at a higher rate than ever, actually more than we can serve at this time.”
    Cantrell was looking forward to shaking Blunt’s hand and thanking him for what he is doing in Washington, D.C., in behalf of mental health services.
    “It’s great to have a national senator come here who is a leader and proponent of mental health services throughout the nation,” he said. “He was a co-sponsor of the Excellence in Mental Health Act which really will improve mental health services in communities throughout the country. We’re celebrating that act.”
    Blunt said he would like to see Missouri be one of eight pilot states included in the Excellence in Mental Health Act.
    “I’d like to see our state be one of the states at the forefront of doing that better job and quite frankly we’ve been pretty good at these mental health issues,” he said.
    While Missouri may be doing a good job on the mental health front, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room for improvement. Lt. Kathy Davis of the Hannibal Police Department praised new local mental health programs, but added that resources are still limited.
    Davis noted that far too often individuals with mental health issues are becoming a “part of the law enforcement system rather than a part of the mental health system.”
    Blunt was told that just 70 to 80 percent of those needing mental health services are covered by Medicaid. A smaller percentage has private insurance, while others have no way to pay for the mental health care they might need.
    “We have people in the community without the resources that a community would want them to have,” said Blunt, who was joined Tuesday by state Sen. Brian Munzlinger and Rep. Lindell Shumake.
    Page 2 of 2 - Blunt noted that violent rampages, such as the one last Friday in Santa Barbara, Calif., which left six dead and 13 injured, is raising the country’s awareness of mental health.
    “These violent tragedies always have a mental health component,” said the senator, noting that people with a mental health problem are “much more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator of a crime.”

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