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Mental health task force holds first hearing

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – A state panel investigating mental health care in Missouri held its first public hearing Thursday in St. Louis.

Governor Matt Blunt formed the group in June, following reports of widespread abuse and neglect in state-run centers and private group homes.

The Missouri Mental Health Task Force is looking at ways to improve oversight of residential care facilities, especially procedures for reporting abuse and neglect.

Many at the hearing said there should be an outside group to investigate those complaints.

But William Wells, whose son lives at a state habilitation center, says reforms need go beyond investigation procedures.

"Pay the people enough, and get the mental health commission involved enough that they hire people at the top, who will hire people at the bottom so that we don't have to have investigations," Wells said.

The task force has scheduled five more hearings over the next three weeks.

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