LFCS Reports Significant Increase in Mental Health Service Requests, Introduces Mental Health First Aid Training

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Mental Health Awareness Month in May provides an opportunity to educate about the growing need for behavioral health resources—and train community members to help

Everyone deserves access to high-level behavioral health care now more than ever...If we can train more community members to help those in need and to know the proper referral channels, we can improve the health of our communities.

Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri (LFCS) has seen a 400 percent increase in requests for mental health services over the last year as the pandemic created a mental health crisis for children and families.

To address this growing need, LFCS is actively working to provide individuals with essential behavioral health resources such as professional mental health counseling, prevention services, and accessible education tools like their newest offering, Mental Health First Aid, an evidenced-based innovative training that equips participants with the tools to recognize signs of trauma and mental illness.

The 2021 State of Mental Health in America Report noted that 47 million US adults experience mental illness, equivalent to 19 percent of the population. In Missouri, nearly one million adults over the age of 18 suffer from mental illness every year.

The pandemic negatively impacted these numbers.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during June of 2020, 40 percent of adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse. In the same study, it was found that nationwide, symptoms of anxiety and depression had a considerable increase during April to June 2020, when compared with the same period in 2019.

“While these statistics are troubling, they show us that more people are recognizing they have a mental health issue that they need help addressing,” said Mike Duggar, President and CEO of LFCS. “Everyone deserves access to high-level behavioral health care now more than ever. Part of this care is educating those beyond the front lines about how to be a mental health advocate and resource. That’s where our Mental Health First Aid Training Program serves to complement all of the other mental health resources we offer. If we can train more community members to help those in need and to know the proper referral channels, we can improve the health of our communities.”

LFCS aims to provide free or low-cost behavioral health services to individuals across the state, as well as readily accessible resources for those struggling. These initiatives include:

Counseling: LFCS currently offers highly accessible counseling services at 13 locations across Missouri, including St. Louis City and County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County and Cape Girardeau. The agency offers outpatient therapeutic counseling to families, children, adults and couples, regardless of their ability to pay. Treatments address a variety of issues such as mood or behavior disruption, difficulties with work or school, depression, anxiety, and family or social relationship problems. Counseling is offered both in person and through telehealth.

Prevention: LFCS recognizes the equal importance of intervention and prevention services to comprehensively address mental health issues across Missouri. The agency currently leads several initiatives to support at-risk populations. STEP-Up is a school-based prevention program designed to engage at-risk youth in activities to increase positive life choices and decrease likelihood of behaviors that can lead to mental health issues. LFCS provides trauma-informed prevention education to community leaders and organizations in Franklin County, as well as intensive trauma training, consultation and one-on-one visits to K-12 schools following the Missouri Model for Trauma Informed Schools.

Education and Additional Resources: To address the need for information about mental health, the organization offers a catalog of resources and education opportunities, including:

  • Mental Health Minute, a free monthly e-newsletter, designed to help children and families better understand mental health issues and provide a safe space for conversation. The agency has seen high levels of engagement with this new initiative, and will continue to provide this resource long after the pandemic.
  • Mental Health First Aid, an evidenced-based innovative training that equips participants with the tools to recognize signs of trauma and mental illness. The training costs $30 per person and can be offered for private groups, in addition to the general sessions offered through LFCS for any member of the public. Especially valuable for professionals like teachers, first responders, and medical professionals who regularly work with children or people in crisis situations, LFCS can deliver Mental Health First Aid training anywhere across Missouri either virtually or in-person for groups up to 25.
  • LFCS Mental Health Presentations provide an overview of several mental health topics. Each presentation was designed by mental health professionals to educate the community on issues such as anxiety and depression, suicide, mentally healthy habits, and trauma. All content can be accessed via the LFCS YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4j9rXtGA4T0T9L55LEQrOA.

“As we continue to observe the effects this pandemic has had on mental health, we need to ensure that any individual that needs help has the resources and ability to receive care,” said Duggar. “We hope that Mental Health Awareness Month will inspire the community to get involved, so that we can better serve children and families in need across the state.”

Community members who would like to support LFCS’s ongoing efforts can donate at any time, or participate in Give STL Day on May 6th. Visit http://www.lfcsmo.org to learn more information and get involved.


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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Melissa Barreca
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