History of the St. Francois County Mental Health Board

During the Community of Hope county needs and resource assessment facilitated by the St. Francois County Community Partnership office the need for an entity to advocate for mental health services for the county became apparent. A coalition was formed which included members from law enforcement, education, mental health providers, and concerned citizens. The St. Francois County Commission appointed 12 board members in November of 2011.

In the first year of its appointment, the St. Francois County Mental Health Board (SFCMHB) organized, elected officers, and developed a vision, mission statement, and initial goals and objectives. During this process the Board received information from a number of community sources. As there was a general opinion that access to mental health services was problematic at times in the county, public input on this subject was solicited via a public hearing at Mineral Area College. Information received was incorporated into the initial goals formulated.

Board meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 3:00 pm in the County Commissioner's Board Room on the third floor of the St. Francois County Courthouse Annex Building  located at 1 West Liberty Street, Farmington, MO.

Current Board Members include: Candy Zarcone (President), Dennis Smith (Vice President), Karen Adams, David Tetrault, Shelly Bess, Al Crandall, Walt Barron, Brandy Kennon, Michelle Ramirez, Julie McCarver and Jarrod Arnett 

Board Achievements:

Establish Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for county law enforcement and a CIT Coordinating Council to enhance cooperation and collaboration between law enforcement, mental health service providers, advocacy groups, and consumers.

The CIT program is an innovative, first responder model of specialized law enforcement expertise. Developed jointly by law enforcement and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), CIT focuses officer training on crisis de-escalation strategies and redirection of individuals to the mental health system. CIT has been proven to increase officer and citizen safety, reduce recidivism, increase officer/community confidence and increase cooperation between criminal justice and mental health systems. Officers receive specialized training in a 5-day, 40 hour training program that is POST certified.

In January 2013, the SFCMHB began working to bring together law enforcement agencies, mental health service providers, and advocacy organizations to start the planning process for CIT. In June 2013, a CIT Coordinating Council was formed and began work on CIT officer training for the county. Farmington Police Chief, Rick Baker, agreed to chair the council. A subcommittee was appointed to organize training and Chief Baker enlisted the Police Academy at Mineral Area College to offer the specialized CIT training as part of the Police Academy training. The first training was offered April 28th – May 2nd, 2014 with approximately 54 emergency personnel completing the training. Trainings are now offered annually at the Mineral Area College of Law Enforcement. 

 Compile a comprehensive listing of county mental health services and providers in a publically accessible place, i.e. website.

Two barriers citizens indentified in accessing mental health services were: a lack of information in knowing who/where to go to for assistance and at what point professional help was needed. In response to this need, SFCMHB has worked to develop a county mental health assistance website. In collaboration with the St. Francois County Community Partnership office and Prevention Consultants of Missouri, the SFCMHB received a grant from ACT Missouri in October 2013 for the development of the site. In November of 2013 the board solicited proposals from various website designers for development of the county mental health assistance site. SFCMB received proposals from 5 website designers. The Board, with advice from 4 technical experts, selected Moss Media to develop the site. The county mental health assistance website, www.sfcmentalhealth.com became fully operational in July of 2014.

St. Francois County Mental Health Walk

In 2013 and 2014 the SFCMHB has partnered with BJC Behavioral Healthcare, NAMI and other local provider and advocacy organizations to promote the St. Francois County Mental Health Walk at Engler Park. The Walk promotes and serves as a fundraiser for NAMI in support of its Family to Family program, which provides support and education for families dealing with mental illness. This particular event has reinforced the relationship of the Board with the service providers, consumers/families, and advocacy community within the county.

Objectives being pursued by the Board are:

Research and advocate for the formation of mental health court. The natural outgrowth of the CIT process is a mental health court.

This process has been initiated by the mental health liaison and a sitting judge has agreed to undertake this objective.

Vision statement- “For the people of St. Francois County to live in an environment that brings hope and improves the quality of life for the person affected by mental illness and substance abuse.”

Mission statement- “The St. Francois County Mental Health Board will work to ensure quality prevention, treatment and recovery services for adults, youth and children with mental illness and alcohol or drug abuse issues.”