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MIMH News & Events
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - posted on January 13, 2014
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 20th. "50 Years of Fulfilling the Dream" is a video documentary created by the joint effort of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and the University of Missouri - St. Louis Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity in honor of the 50th anniversary of both the University of Missouri - St. Louis and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The focus of the film is to explore the role and importance of diversity in the university's past, evaluate current accomplishments and challenges, and look toward future progress. UMSL students, faculty, staff, and alumni from different generations and backgrounds share their personal experiences and insights concerning diversity both on campus and in the larger context of history, American society, and the world at large.
MIMH names Felix Vincenz interim director - posted on December 20, 2013
Felix Vincenz, chief operating officer of St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center, has been named interim director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of MissouriSt. Louis.
Free Suicide Prevention App Developed by MIMH Available on iTunes Store - posted on December 12, 2013
Many people feel unprepared to talk to others about suicide. To make matters worse, there is a prevailing misconception that it is best not to engage people in a conversation about suicide as it might encourage them to act. However, research demonstrates that this is simply not true, and people who are considering suicide need and even appreciate direct communication about their feelings.
A new Suicide Lifeguard mobile app developed by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH) and the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) is now available at no cost at the iTunes Store.
Suicide Lifeguard is a FREE app intended for anyone concerned that someone they know may be thinking of suicide. It provides information on:
- How to recognize warning signs of suicide;
- How to ask about suicidal thoughts and/or intentions;
- How to respond; and
- Where to refer someone.
Features of the app include direct, immediate connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, direct access to national and Missouri resource websites, and specific resources for military/veterans, those who identify as LGBTQ, Spanish-speaking individuals, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
"I hope that folks who use our app will gain more confidence in their ability to talk to someone who may be having suicidal thoughts," said Joel Epstein, research associate professor at the MIMH who led the app development team for programming and creative.
The suicide-prevention information included in the app was produced by the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project, a joint effort between the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH). The project was made possible by a grant to the DMH from Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) including a subcontract to UMSL.
The Missouri Suicide Prevention Project creates a statewide youth suicide prevention response using evidence-based practices and grounded in public/private collaboration. The project, administered by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, is independently evaluated by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, a part of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, ensuring the interventions are tailored to the particular needs of Missouri communities.
Under the project, an extensive number of suicide prevention trainings have been conducted across Missouri, many of offer wallet cards or handbooks to participants that provide additional information or reminders about how to help someone who may be suicidal. However, participants often don't keep such resources with them at all times and they may not be available when needed. On the other hand, smartphone users are usually within reach of their phones. So having a mobile phone app that can provide assistance at a person's fingertips is a great way to enhance current training efforts.
The iPhone, iPad and Android app version are currently available.
People involved in the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project through the SAMSHA grant and the subcontract to UMSL include:
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Parks, distinguished research professor
- Project Director: Scott Perkins, project director
- Evaluation and Content:
- Liz Sale, associate research professor
- Collin Miller, research analyst
- Ginny Weil, project development specialist
- Julie Matthews; research specialist
- App Development:
- Joel Epstein, research associate professor
- Kelly Gregory, senior multimedia specialist
- Kate Watkins, coordinator, program/project support
Joe Parks Named Director of MO HealthNet Division - posted on December 04, 2013
Gov. Jay Nixon announced that UMSL's Dr. Joe Parks, MD, director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, has been named director of the MO HealthNet Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services. Dr. Felix T. Vincenz, PhD (clinical psychology), will serve as interim director beginning December 16, 2013.
Dr. Jodi Heaps Joins MIMH - posted on November 13, 2013
Dr. Jodi Heaps recently joined the faculty of MIMH, bringing with her an expertise in neuropsychology and a special interest in HIV and its psychological comorbidities, such as substance abuse and depression. While earning her Ph.D. in psychology at University of Missouri - St. Louis, completed in 2012, Heaps studied the mechanisms of HIV Associated Neurological Diseases (HAND) and whether the various comorbidities or some other mechanism contributes to cognitive deficits in HIV patients. She also studied HIV in Thailand and South Africa, where there are different types of HIV which supposedly have less effect on the brain, to see if people in these countries with HIV were in fact affected less and, if so, whether the differences were in virus or the brains.
At first Heaps was apprehensive about joining the MIMH because of the institute’s focus on treatment, management, and evaluation, as opposed to her line of research, which focuses more on what physically happens to the brain during mental illness, the causes and effects of disease. However, after meeting with Dr. Nasser Ashardi and Dr. Joe Parks, Heaps was reassured that MIMH and UMSL wish to expand the breadth of the research conducted at the institute to bridge the gap between evaluation and more fundamental research.
Dr. Heaps believes that this arrangement will be mutually beneficial. She says, “You can make better decisions on how to treat people ...once you understand what the mechanisms of the disease.”
She looks forward to working with other researchers and expanding the work done at MIMH and intends to continue her HIV research while also exploring other areas using cognitive testing and MRI, tools which she did not previously have at her disposal.
'Let's Talk About It' flash mob raises awareness about mental illness - posted on November 04, 2013
The Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH), Provident Inc. Independence Center and Clubhouse International have teamed up to present a “Let’s Talk About It” mental health flash mob. The dancers will break out of a march that will be going down Market Street on Oct. 22. The event is aimed at eradicating stigmas around mental health issues. The march is made up of hundreds of mental health professionals and people living with mental illness who are part of an Oct. 19-24 “Clubhouse Seminar” exploring community-based treatment and recovery. Participants from 20 countries and 35 states are scheduled to attend the seminar.
Chancellor recognizes MIMH staff member with excellence awards - posted on November 04, 2013
Kelly Gregory, senior multimedia specialist at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, received the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in an Administrative/Professional position. With a statewide audience and the need to be more cost effective, Kelly developed a four-format approach to communicating the MIMH message to hundreds of people. More than any traditional audio/visual guy he is the ultimate problem solver and has become a de facto network administrator, web designer, marketer, public speaker, buyer, installer and program coordinator. “I have never met anyone who has willingly and intentionally taken on a wider variety of tasks,” said Thom Pancella, project director of MIMH outreach, in his nomination letter for Gregory. Pancella repeatedly described Gregory’s “versatility” and how it resulted in innovative solutions that were both financially feasible and successful at engaging the community.
(Photo by August Jennewein)
MHFA Governor’s Initiative a Great Success - posted on October 11, 2013
Over 100 new Mental Health First Aiders were certified during Missouri’s first large-scale Mental Health First Aid training on August 21-22. The event was a part of Governor Nixon’s mental health initiative, and Missourians from a number of counseling and faith-based fields gathered at the University Plaza Convention Center for the 8-hour training. On Wednesday night, training participants were invited to attend a dinner to hear the governor and others, including Missouri Institute of Mental Health Director Dr. Joe Parks, pledge their support to MHFA and express their belief in the importance of improving mental health services. The Missouri Department of Mental Health coordinated the event with help from MIMH and the Missouri Foundation for Health.
Michelle Hill Completes Community Research Fellowship - posted on September 27, 2013
Michelle Hill has worked as a Grants and Contracts Specialist at MIMH for 13 years ensuring that researchers are in legal compliance. This summer, Hill completed the Community Research Fellows Training at Washington University, a 15 week course modeled after the Masters of Public Health Curriculum that is intended to help community organizations and researchers work better to identify and rectify health concerns and disparities in underserved communities. The project was organized by Dr. Melody Goodman and Jewel Stafford, MSW, and each session was taught by a different Wash. U. professor specializing in topics including community research, policy, diversity, and cultural competency. Hill was referred to the program by MIMH researchers and was one of only 50 chosen for the fellowship out of hundreds of applicants.
One of the primary goals of the fellowship was to give researchers and community members a chance to work together, learn how to communicate, and understand each other’s perspectives and problem-solving methods. “A community person just knows they need money to fix a problem,” explains Hill. “They don’t realize that they need data, they need statistics. Researchers are already used to automatically asking, ‘Well, how are you going to measure that?’ A community person is like, ‘What do you mean “measure?” Can’t you see the people who are sick?’”
One way the course encouraged understanding was through group problem-solving assignments where participants were strategically assigned roles as a community member or a researcher to make students look at a problem from a new point of view. Having worked closely with researchers for over a decade, Hill already had some idea of where both sides were coming from. “For the first few classes, I was wondering why they’d put these community people with these arrogant researchers,” she says. “That’s how I was feeling, and I know that the researchers were feeling annoyed. But that was the design of the program – for us to value one another.”
The final group project was a Request for Proposal, a chance for participants to apply their knowledge in the real world. Each group consisted of four team members and an advising Washington University professor. Hill’s group focused on HIV and AIDS in the African American church with a goal of discovering the best way to raise awareness and reduce stigma in church communities.
Although Hill has no plans for a career change, she found the course extremely enlightening and useful and recommends it to anyone considering a career in research. “It should be a prerequisite,” she says. “When I first started working at MIMH, I wondered if I’d taken the wrong path, if I should have continued on to get a Ph.D. to become a researcher. But after I took this class, I’m glad I’m not a PI because it’s not what I would have wanted to do.”
Instead, Hill will use her greater understanding of what research entails to expand on her current duties. Before completing the fellowship, she mostly examined grant proposals in terms of legal compliance. “Now I can be more involved in the design and methodology, rather than just the legalities,” says Hill.
Overall, the course gave both community members and researchers a better understanding of and appreciation for the work the other group does and the challenges they face, which will help them to be more effective as they continue to work together to reduce disparities in racial and ethnic minority communities. Community members who completed the course will have the opportunity to apply their research knowledge by serving on institutional review boards and community research advisory boards. “We need the researchers, and we need the community people,” concludes Hill. “We can do a better thing if we work together.”
Rita Adkins Poster Presentation Accepted to INEBRIA Conference - posted on September 20, 2013
Rita Adkins’s poster presentation, “Funding Medicaid Codes for Screening and Brief Intervention: Lessons Learned,” was recently accepted to the 10th Annual INEBRIA Conference taking place in Rome, Italy later this month. Her poster presents a rationale for supporting SBI services nationally, along with recommendations for petitioning State’s Budget Offices to fund the Medicaid codes, based on lessons learned from the MOSBIRT project, and includes findings from her recent report, “Missouri Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment: An Analysis of National Funding Trends for SBI Services,” co-authored by Joseph Grailer, Mandy Lay, and Barbara Keehn. This report, which examined Medicaid fee schedules of the 50 states and DC, as well as the American Medical Association’s Common Procedural Terminology codes, was presented to the Missouri Governor’s budget office, resulting in rate setting and coverage of SBI services at the Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Mental Health Centers across the state.
According to their website, www.inebria.net, INEBRIA, or The International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol and Other Drugs, is “an international network of researchers, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders interested in the potential of brief interventions in health and other settings to reduce the harms produced by alcohol and other drug use. It aims to provide global leadership in the development, evaluation and implementation of evidence-based practice in the area of early identification and brief intervention for hazardous and harmful substance use.” The annual INEBRIA Conference seeks to stimulate international cooperation between member researchers and practitioners. Ms. Adkins’ presentation is one of only 52 accepted worldwide, 14 of which are from the United States.
Despite her being unable to attend the conference, Ms. Adkins’ abstract will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal ASCP, Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. In addition, she has been invited by ASCP to submit her abstract as a full-length manuscript. She and her co-authors are currently editing their manuscript and expect to submit it shortly.
Show Me You Care About Suicide Prevention Conference - posted on September 16, 2013
The 8th annual Show Me You Care About Suicide Prevention Conference was held at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia, MO on July 15-16. The conference was co-sponsored by DMH, MIMH, the MU Wellness Center, and Partners in Prevention. Attendees included approximately 180 people from Missouri campuses, state agencies and local organizations, as well as suicide prevention advocates from surrounding states. Along with workshops and presentations on a variety of suicide and self-injury related topics, the conference featured a presentation by Kevin Hines, author of Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving after a Suicide Attempt
, who attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge when he was 19 years old. Conference attendees also previewed a clip from the upcoming documentary “Walking Man” filmed earlier this year as Mark Norwine walked across Missouri from Kansas City to St. Louis in an effort to help raise awareness regarding mental health. As part of the 2013 Missouri Suicide Prevention awards, the family of the late MIMH employee Robyn Boustead were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing her contributions to the field of children’s mental health.
UMSL’s Office of Research Administration Creates Research & Innovation Week Video - posted on September 12, 2013
Each spring, the University of Missouri St. Louis celebrates Research & Innovation Week. Events include talks presented by local entrepreneurs, free film showings, networking workshops, and an awards ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of student and faculty researchers. This short video summarizes the 2013 celebration and features interviews with MIMH’s Dr. Joe Parks, Dr. Felix Vincenz, and
Dr. Matthew Hile.