A special group formed to recommend changes within the Department of Mental Health has avoided directly addressing a recommendation made by the governor. The report to Governor Blunt by the Missouri Mental Health Task Force doesn’t directly address Blunt’s recommendation that the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center in St. Louis be closed. One of its recommendations, though, states that “no habilitation center shall be closed as long as there is a need for its continued operation.” Adding, “Conversely, any habilitation center for which there is no need shall be closed.” Task Force member Natalie Woods worries the language isn’t strong enough to keep Bellefontaine open. Woods says she doesn’t know how that language will be taken. Woods has a sister in the Nevada Habilitation Center and says she couldn’t find comparable care at community centers. Interim Mental Health Director Ron Dittemore has heard similar comments from others. Dittemore says some families tell him that their loved one feels happier, is better adjusted and has a more productive life in a habilitation center than at any other setting. Bellefontaine’s population has dropped since Blunt made his proposal. Its ultimate fate remains uncertain.

Related web sites:
Mental Health Task Force