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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

‘Show-Me Hope’ Grant Goes Toward Mental Health, Contact Tracing In Joplin Area

City of Joplin
Scott Harvey

Living in the middle of a pandemic is stressful. It can take a toll on mental health. But now, some grant funding is going toward a team of mental health professionals in the Joplin area to help.

Originally, the FEMA-funded “Show-Me Hope” grant went toward survivors of 2019 storms in southwest Missouri, helping them cope with psychological trauma. But funding has expanded to include support of those dealing with the strain from the COVID-19 crisis.

Ozark Center, a behavioral health service provider, is rolling out the program. The organization is part of Freeman Health Systems, which operates two hospitals in Joplin and one in Neosho.

Debbie Fitzgerald, who’s the project manager for the “Show-Me Hope” program, says mental health services are important even if someone hasn’t had or known anyone with COVID-19.

“There’s not one American or probably any person that has any access to media that is not in some way had a brush with COVID,” Fitzgerald told KSMU.

Mental health professionals will walk people through ways to deal with stress and anxiety related to the crisis. The counseling will be over the phone for now.

A second part of the grant involves contact tracing; Amy DeMotta, a community crisis worker, says Ozark Center will work with public health officials to call people who may have been infected, answer questions they have, and counsel them.

Those who call the Disaster Distress Helpline will be transferred to a health professional in their area. That number is 1-800-985-5990. Signing up for services is anonymous.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.