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Parson proposes using $3.5 million to add more mental health resources


Missouri Gov. Mike Parson proposed to use $3.5 million to increase the number of youth behavioral health professionals across the state.

According to the initiative, the funding will go towards 27 professionals to "help our youth in crisis and receive the treatment they need."

Parson's proposition was announced during Wednesday's State of the State Address. Parson invited youth behavioral professional Phallin Thornton, along with Leah Crawford and her daughter Jewel.

Leah Crawford took Jewel to see Thorton when she noticed a change in Jewel's behavior, according to Parson in his speech.

Parson said in his speech that Crawford noticed Jewel was "carrying so much anger and hate," when she made the decision to seek Thorton's help.

"It's something that's very important... I just think that when a child feels comfortable with somebody enough to you know, let go of things that are making them angry inside," Crawford said. "It could be just as quick as somebody you feel that connection with and saying it out loud. Then you know, that anger just slowly disappears you know, it's it was just as simple as her voicing it."

Jewel told ABC 17 she feels comfortable talking with Thorton, and speaking with her after stressful days makes her feel better.

Thorton said she's grateful for the opportunity to share Jewel's story, and for Parson's support for social workers.

"We already have a wonderful community behavioral health liaison program, and starting the youth behavioral health liaison program has just been such a huge support and getting the youth in the services and families that we need," Thorton said.

Thorton wanted to be a social worker since she was 12 years old. Thorton said she went through the foster system from ages 7-11 and was adopted at 12.

Thorton said the state is in need are in need of more social workers, and advises anybody who may be interested to reach out to their local community agents to find out how they can get involved.

"I'm so grateful to Governor Parson's for his support, continuous support, and recognizing the importance of mental health for our youth and suffering," Thorton said.

Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said state Democrats are in favor of the proposal.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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