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Springfield-Greene County Health Department News Releases

Posted on: November 17, 2017

Nov 17, 2017 - Community Leaders Launch Mental Health Needs Assessment

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Today community leaders from across many sectors in Springfield came together to begin the process of a mental health needs assessment for our community. 

The assessment will focus on the goals of improving the system of mental health and substance abuse delivery, reducing stigma and developing collaborative paths forward for a better future. 

“Every community has those watershed moments,” said Matt Morrow, President of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “Those tipping points that they can collectively point back to and say, this was a time when we took a significant step forward. I believe what we are here to learn more about today is the start of such a moment – that’s because this assessment will serve as the foundation for making impactful and data-driven decisions that are customized to truly benefit our citizens.”

Crescendo Consulting Group will shepherd our community through the process, expected to last 12-18 month or longer, of a comprehensive study to align partners on a resulting action plan. 

The day began with impassioned, emotional and poignant stories from two local mothers who have lost their children to mental health and substance abuse struggles. 

Sam Holmes was a college athlete with a great sense of humor. He took his life in March after years battling depression and anxiety. His mother, Mary Jane Holmes, urged an end to the stigma of mental health, especially for men.

Samantha Huntley had been a cheerleader at Kickapoo High School before a terrible car accident left her in pain and vulnerable. She fell into the trap of addiction and, after years of trying treatment after treatment, overdosed in September. Her mother, Julie Oziah-Gideon, called for an end to the stereotype of addiction.

The full video of each mother’s powerful stories is available at

Front and center for the announcement were four organizations leading the way in this effort: Burrell Behavioral Health, CoxHealth, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and Mercy Springfield:

  • “There is a behavioral health crisis in our city, state and nation. To solve it, we must come together as partners to design and coordinate a worthy response,” says Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth. “This study will better identify problems, and bring us together to help solve them.”
  • “Jordan Valley Community Health Center has been committed to behavioral health for many years,” said Dr. Matt Stinson, Vice President of Medical and Behavioral Health Services. “Our dedication to continually developing behavioral health services to meet the needs of the communities and families we serve is an important component of our integrated health care delivery model. We recognize the great need for multiple organizations to be a part of this effort and are thankful for a community that supports actions such as this.”
  • “Our region is experiencing the dual crises of people suffering from addiction and mental health issues,” said Jon Swope, interim president of Mercy Springfield Communities. “At Mercy Hospital Springfield, we are seeing an average of nearly six more patients each day in our emergency room who are there for mental health reasons than we did in 2009. It’s a total of nearly 20 people per day and 600 per month. They need our help and we need to respond with compassionate care.”


Springfield’s Community Health Needs Assessment, published in 2016 and available at, identified mental health and substance abuse as significant issues in our community, but also emphasized how a lack of data and a comprehensive understanding of Springfield’s needs hindered efforts to improve these issues.

In recent months, there has been a growing call to action surrounding mental health and substance abuse challenges in Springfield and the region. This assessment will help our community get a clear picture of the needs and opportunities we have in addressing the impact of mental health issues and substance abuse locally.

A significant grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health has made possible this first-of-its-kind effort for Springfield. The $252,500 grant will fund an assessment with the goal of measuring the effects of stigma on mental health and substance abuse, the impact of these issues on other health-related outcomes and other emerging needs or concerns. Ultimately, this assessment is designed to lead to a conversation about how Springfield can best leverage its resources to better serve our community needs.

The Healthy Living Alliance, a local organization aimed at making healthier living a priority in Springfield by bringing together representatives from local business, government and nonprofit and healthcare industries, has taken on action plan resulting from the Springfield Community Health Assessment.

For more information on this announcement or questions about how to get involved in HLA initiatives, contact: Kathryn Wall, Public Health Information Administrator, Springfield-Greene County Health Department at 417.874.1205 or  

Watch the entire event on Facebook here
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