Nationally-recognized leader has worked directly with Gov. Nixon to strengthen Missouri’s mental health system
JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that the Missouri Mental Health Commission has appointed Mark Stringer as the new Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health to replace the retiring Director, Dr. Keith Schafer. Stringer will begin his new post on July 1.
“Mark Stringer is a dedicated, experienced and respected leader in the field of mental health who I’ve worked closely with over the last six years to strengthen and improve Missouri’s mental health system,” Gov. Nixon said. “From placing new law enforcement liaisons at each of our community mental health centers to expanding access to Mental Health First Aid training, I’ve been pleased to work with Mark on a number of key initiatives to ensure Missourians with mental health challenges receive the care and treatment they need. I look forward to continuing to work with Mark to build a healthier and safer future for all Missourians.”
Strengthening and expanding Missouri’s mental health system has been a priority of Gov. Nixon and his administration.
In Fiscal Year 2014, the Governor proposed and implemented a strategic initiative to help communities identify and care for Missourians with severe mental illness. One key goal was to provide additional training and resources to local law enforcement officers who are often called to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
In addition to placing 31 mental health liaisons at the state’s Community Mental Health Centers, the initiative also included an expansion of Crisis Intervention and Mental Health First-Aid training and resources for emergency room intervention teams to work with patients needing coordinated care.
The State of Missouri is also moving forward with rebuilding the crumbling Fulton State Mental Hospital. Opened in 1851, Fulton State Hospital is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi River and houses the state’s only maximum security psychiatric facility. The Biggs Forensic Center at Fulton treats patients with serious mental illness who are committed by Missouri courts for evaluation and treatment related to a crime, or who have seriously assaulted patients or staff in other state psychiatric hospitals. Since 2007, Fulton State Hospital has taken in more than 1,500 admissions from 100 Missouri counties and the City of St. Louis.
Last year, the General Assembly backed the Governor’s plan for replacing the state’s outdated and deteriorating maximum-security psychiatric facility at Fulton with a new state-of-the-art mental hospital that will be safer and more conducive to modern treatment. Last month, Gov. Nixon was joined by state and local officials to break ground on the new Fulton State Psychiatric Hospital campus, with construction expected be completed in 2017.
“As DMH Director for 16 years, Dr. Keith Schafer has left a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, along with an experienced and dedicated leadership team, including Mark Stringer,” Gov. Nixon said. “I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Mark and his team at DMH to build on this tremendous progress.”