A collaborative project addressing access to mental health services in Cassville, Aurora and Mountain View was one of three proposals selected for the Rural Ozarks Health Initiative (ROHI), a three-year grant program to address priority health issues in communities or regions served by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’s rural affiliate foundations.

The Cassville Community Foundation-led proposal will address the shortage of mental health professionals in rural communities through the use of virtual technology, providing web-based assessments by trained mental health specialists to expand access and improve the quality of behavioral health care in Barry, Lawrence and Shannon counties.

“This program will enable Mercy to expand its network of high-quality mental health providers into our remote areas, transforming the way health care is delivered,” said Cassville Community Foundation Board President Mike McCracken, who spent 20 years serving on the Mercy Hospital Cassville board of directors. “Any time we can help improve the care and quality of life in our community we must do everything in our power to make this happen, and this project is truly a gift to our area.”

ROHI is a partnership between the CFO and Missouri Foundation for Health to provide $750,000 in a multi-year grant opportunity to rural affiliates of the CFO. Three projects, including this one, will receive a $50,000 grant per project for three years, totaling $150,000 for each awardee. A one-to-one local match is required, one-half of which can include verifiable in-kind resources.

Cash and in-kind support for the Cassville project comes from the Mercy Hospital Cassville, Mercy Hospital Aurora, Mercy Hospital Mountain View, Cassville Community Foundation, Aurora Area Community Foundation, Mercy Health Foundation and Clark Community Mental Health Center.

A volunteer grant committee selected the proposals based on collaboration among partners, commitment by the community or region to address the identified issue(s), demonstrated need and ability to sustain the initiative beyond the three-year grant.

“Rural Missouri has consistently shown worse health outcomes and less accessibility to quality health care than our urban areas. We are grateful that the Missouri Foundation for Health is partnering with us to help address those disparities,” said CFO President Brian Fogle.

A second phase of ROHI grants will make available $100,000 annually for smaller-scale proposals in cities not covered by the larger ROHI programs. Applications for the first year of this program open on January 8.

About Missouri Foundation for Health -- Missouri Foundation for Health is a resource for the region, working with communities and nonprofits to generate and accelerate positive changes in health. As a catalyst for change, the Foundation improves the health of Missourians through partnership, experience, knowledge and funding.

About the Community Foundation of the Ozarks -- The CFO is a regional public charitable foundation that holds about 3,000 funds for donors, nonprofit partners and 49 affiliate foundations. Founded in 1973, the CFO has made grants and distributions of more $300 million and currently holds assets of more than $287 million as of November 30.