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World Mental Health Day on October 10 provides an opportunity to raise awareness and mobilize efforts in support of these services.

St. Louis, MO— Lutheran Family and Children’s Services (LFCS) Missouri understands the significant correlation that exists among utilization of mental health services, the stigma of mental illness, and accessibility to mental health services. Through a variety of innovative programs, LFCS offers accessible mental health services to over 4500 children and families throughout Missouri. World Mental Health Day, observed on October 10, provides an opportunity for this community to join LFCS in the conversation about mental illness and serves as a reminder of the ongoing need for mental health care in Missouri. 

According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health 2017 Prevalence Update, nearly 18% of Missouri adults experienced a form of mental illness that year, and more than 14% of Missouri adolescents (ages 12 - 17) experienced a major depressive episode. According to the St. Louis County Children's Services Fund’s Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Needs Assessment, the number of youth who receive psychiatric services has increased by 31% over the past few years in St. Louis County. Similarly, the St. Louis City Mental Health Board Needs Assessment found that 24% of children in St. Louis City are projected to have a mental health challenge that qualifies them for a diagnosis. 

“Despite these staggering statistics, few will seek or can afford therapeutic services to address their mental health concerns or symptoms,” said behavioral health expert at LFCS, Michael Kreitler, MA LPC. “Data shows that there is a need for mental health services and that disparity in mental health care means that low and moderate-income individuals, couples, and families have challenges finding affordable, quality services.”

LFCS aims to combat this issue of accessibility by imbedding free or low-cost behavioral health services into schools, churches, and community spaces across the state. These programs include: 

Counseling: LFCS offers outpatient therapeutic counseling services to adults, children, couples, and families regardless of their ability to pay. Counseling services are highly accessible, provided at 13 locations throughout St. Louis City and County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, and Cape Girardeau. School-based counseling services are also available at over 60 schools. Treatment interventions address issues such as marriage, family, and social relationship problems, mood/behavior disruption, difficulties with work/school, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Community Prevention: The school-based prevention program serves children and youth in third grade through high school at 19 schools in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. The program model is an evidence-based combination of curriculum delivered in a group or classroom setting and individual follow-up sessions designed to engage at-risk youth in activities to increase positive life skills and decrease the likelihood of risky behaviors such as bullying, drugs, alcohol, and violence which can lead to mental health issues.

“The individuals and communities these programs serve would not have access to this level of care without LFCS,” says Mike Duggar, President & CEO of LFCS. “The more awareness and financial support we receive throughout the state in honor of World Mental Health Day, the better we can serve these populations.”

Community members who would like to support LFCS’s ongoing efforts are invited to attend the organization’s 36th Annual Dinner and Auction on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Four Seasons in St. Louis. For tickets and more information: www.lfcsmo.org/event/2019-lfcs-dinner-auction. General donations to sustain funding gaps may be made at www.lfcsmo.org/donate-now

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About Lutheran Family and Children’s Services (LFCS)

LFCS, a proud member of the United Way, is a statewide agency with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, three regional offices, and numerous satellite service sites. The mission of LFCS is to empower children and families to overcome challenges today so they can build a better tomorrow. As a nonprofit social services organization, its vision is to make generations of children and families safer and stronger together. LFCS opens doors for people who face poverty, unexpected pregnancy, violence, unemployment, illness, homelessness, and more. To tackle these challenges, LFCS programs are delivered in two key services areas: Family Services and Behavioral Health Services. A dedicated staff delivers professionalism and personal care in equal measure to every situation and each client who visits one of the many offices in Missouri. LFCS services are open to anyone regardless of race, faith, national origin, gender, or age.  For more information, call 314-754-2785 or visit lfcsmo.org

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