Mental health needs in America's Hometown

Photo taken from Lighthouse in Hannibal, Mo.

A national crisis hits close to home as northeast Missouri struggles to find more funding for mental health.

Here's an update

KHQA brought you last month

about Hannibal Regional Healthcare System closing its outpatient mental health services.

Those patients were sent to other mental health agencies in Hannibal, which already are dealing with lots of patients with little funding.

KHQA asked the Hannibal Police Department if it expected any increase in crime following the closing of mental health outpatient services.

"I believe it's possible," Lt. Kathy Davis answered. "Any time people can't get the services they need, they sometimes act out or have a crisis that involves the police department being called. I'm not sure that would be a direct correlation to crime but it's definitely possible."

Lt. Davis said alcohol, drug abuse and mental health can be contributing factors to just about any crime her department sees in Hannibal. She said lack of services is the city's biggest problem surrounding mental health. People who are untreated and undiagnosed are the biggest threats to society. Lt. Davis said the Hannibal Police Department has increased its training to deal with mental illness.

"We've had instances where people will threaten their family because they're having a crisis or doing things way out of character for them," Lt. Davis said. "In the State of Missouri, you can take somebody under a 96-hour hold. That's an involuntary detention where they would have to be evaluated by a competent medical facility."

"There's a big need," Mark Twain Behavioral Health CEO Michael Cantrell said. "There was a survey taken a few months back that showed the number one health care need in Hannibal was for mental and behavioral health services. Now with the closing of the Hannibal Regional Medical Group's outpatient behavioral health department, that need has gone up. We're starting to get more calls all the time. We're serving between 2000 and 3000 patients a year, but we could do more if we had more funding."

Law enforcement can contact a mental health liaison with Mark Twain Behavioral Health to assess or evaluate individuals.

"Since October 1st, we've had over 200 contacts with law enforcement, the court system and through those contacts, have done evaluations with at least 60 individuals," Cantrell said. "It's getting busier, of course, and I think there's just no enough services providers in the area."

You might remember Mary Celenze whom KHQA spoke with last month.

She was one of the patients struggling to find services and a new doctor for her manic depression and bipolar tendencies after the closing of Hannibal Regional's outpatient services.

Celenze reports that Clarity Mental Health in Hannibal has accepted her as a patient.

She also was able to change her prescription coverage for her medications.