News Center for Advancing Health Services, Policy & Economics Research Behavioral/ Mental Health

Center works with state officials to highlight funding sources that strengthen mental health programs, services

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

Studies show that approximately one in ten Missouri adults has a serious mental illness, of whom an estimated 40% do not receive treatment. Untreated serious mental illness in Missouri costs an estimated $2.5 billion annually. The Institute’s Center for Health Economics and Policy is working with the Missouri Department of Mental Health to highlight and explain potential funding sources, which can help strengthen mental health programs, services and supports.

Photo credit: Marcel Strauss, Unsplash

State mental health officials have been looking at ways to call attention to possible funding resources – for example, a county mill tax – and is collaborating with the center to develop an overview. The idea is to share the overview of available funding resources with county governments and state legislators.

“I think it’s incredibly valuable for the state to continue to partner with Washington University in St. Louis and the Center for Health Economics and Policy on initiatives such as these,” says Angie Stuckenschneider, legislative liaison for Missouri’s Department of Mental Health. “The in-depth research and economic knowledge helps bring forward important topics, information and solutions.”

To help local governments and organizations looking at a mill tax as a way to address the unmet mental health needs of their communities, the center has developed a policy brief, “Addressing Local Mental Health Need via County-Level Property Tax”. It explains the types of mill tax funding available and offers case studies of Missouri counties that allocate mental health mill tax funds in different ways.

“This is a great tool for local public health leaders as they continue to look for local solutions to address mental health needs and challenges,” adds Stuckenschneider. “The Department of Mental Health has shared this policy brief with state and local officials, as well as community stakeholders.”

The policy brief outlines several potential funding options that could benefit a community’s mental health programs, services and support systems:

County Level Mill Taxes for Mental Health Services: A county-level mill tax referendum can lead to a new property-based mill tax that will then serve as a sustainable funding source for locally coordinated mental health services.

Children’s and Developmental Disability Funds: Thesefundsoffer an opportunity to draw down matching monies, with county-level mill taxes being authorized by the state in a similar manner to the mental health mill taxes.

Those interested in additional policy briefs issued by the Center for Health Economics and Policy can visit this webpage.

Washington University’s Center for Health Economics and Policy at the Institute for Public Health, advances evidence-based research to improve health and works with policy makers and public health leaders to drive more equitable health policy.