Accessible Mental Health Services are Coming to Missouri
Posted on May 15, 2012 by Thomas Green
Accessible Mental Health services are coming to Missouri for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. After two long years of working through the issues, Missouri Department of Mental Health and Missouri Association of the Deaf, Inc have settled the court case about inaccessibility to services provided by the Department of Mental Health.
The lawsuit was filed because for years, Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) would not hire staff that knew how to sign or work with deaf patients. When three deaf people committed suicide in a short time frame, the deaf community realized the serious need for mental health services to be accessible for us all. Missouri Association of the Deaf and the deaf community had been trying to work with DMH to make DMH’s services accessible for everyone. Eventually Missouri Association of the Deaf and a few other deaf individuals sued Missouri Department of Mental Health for violations of Title 2 of Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of Vocational Rehabilitation Act for failure to provide accessible mental health services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians.
The settlement has many provisions that need to be implemented. DMH will have to hire a state coordinator, or two regional coordinators to ensure that the system of care is in place for deaf patients. Other provisions, such as a crisis line, standards of care, interpreters, in-patient care, community care, training and reporting are things that DMH needs to implement, but first is getting a coordinator or regional coordinators. We, the people of Missouri, will need to be involved in the process to ensure that the implementation of the settlement goes smoothly and receives the support DMH needs from legislators, the governor and the citizens of Missouri.
The major section that would require advocacy from the general public would be for interpreters. The settlement says that DMH will identify interpreters who have received the Mental Health Interpreting Training and is qualified to do mental health interpreting. Currently the State of Missouri’s certification and licensure system does not have any credentials for specialized interpreting. We need to work with DMH to identify how we can make sure that trainings for interpreters are available, and our system is set up to identify specialized interpreting situations on the certification or license.This is just the beginning for Missouri Department of Mental Health and Deaf Missourians to have a long-lasting relationship in providing cultural and linguistic appropriate services for everyone.