Faith-based organizations a crucial part of treating mental health crises


JOPLIN, Mo. — When someone is going through any sort of hardship, a church or faith-based organization is often a place they’ll go for help.

The same can go for someone dealing with a mental health crisis, or even thoughts of suicide.

An area course that will teach you to be an active part in preventing suicide in our community.

That’s the next part of our series The Suicide Crisis: Prevention, Information, and Awareness.

“This may surprise you, but survey after survey, the number one person that people will first turn to is a pastor,” said Zustiak.

Dr. Gary Zustiak of OCC’s Counseling and Pastoral Care Department isn’t talking about people looking for a new church or exploring faith — he’s referring to people who are considering suicide.

“People who are struggling with a mental health crisis should never have to struggle alone. They should be able to reach out to people in the church who would then help bear their burden.”

Preventing suicide in our community through faith is his mission — and the reason he teaches an intervention protocol called QPR

“It stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer.”

Dr. Zustiak says the “q” step, question, can be the most intimidating when you’re trying to help someone.

“You have to ask them specifically that question: ‘are you considering suicide?”‘

But he want’s people to realize its power.

“I’ve never had anyone be angry at me for asking that question. In fact many times they’re just relieved. It’s like yes, OK, finally we can talk about what’s really bothering me.”

The next step is where many people incorporate faith.

“You’re going to persuade them, to hold off. We can bring in faith aspects, biblical aspects, in terms of hope.”

Torrie Wingertsahn, QPR’ Certified, said, “You’re created in the image of God. You have purpose, you have value, like let me help you find that again.”

The final step is crucial in getting that person the help they need.

“Then you refer them to mental health professionals,” said Zustiak.

Like those at the Ozark Center, or a certified faith-based counselor.

The training is brief, its lessons — fairly simple, but its impact has proven time and time again to be life saving.

Leland Whitman, QPR Certified, said, “The Bible says a lot about loving people and bearing each others burdens and people actually going out and doing that for them when they’re at the peak of that moment, when they’re really struggling, and just loving them and encouraging them and being with them is a life-changing thing. Like literally life changing for them.”

“We want to do everything we can to preserve life, because God’s the one who gives life. And it’s our greatest gift,” said Zustiak.

If any local organizations, businesses or churches are interested in taking QPR training, contact the Ozark Center.

And if you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.

We also have more resources for you below — including a list of local faith-based counselors — just click on the news tab and then the suicide crisis link.

Licensed professional counselors at local faith-based organizations:

-Ozark Christian College:
(417) 626-1234
1111 N Main St, Joplin, MO 64801

-Mount Hope Christian Counseling Center:
(417) 624-9659
2810 Mt Hope Rd, Webb City, MO 64870

-Victory for Life Counseling
(417) 825-2751
3405 S. Hammons Blvd., Joplin, MO 64804

-Haven Counseling at Christ Church of Oronogo
(417) 673-0090
22145 Kafir Rd, Oronogo, MO 64855

-Restoration Counseling Services
(417) 208-9498
3230 S, Wisconsin Ave Suite H, Joplin, MO 64804

-Rapha International
(417) 621-0373
712 S Main St, Joplin, MO 64801

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Contact Us

Ozark Center Crisis Services

417.347.7720 or 800.247.0661
Ozark Center Crisis Intervention Services offer 24/7 support to people of all ages and backgrounds free of charge. Ozark Center messaging services Text REGISTER to 720-7-TXTOZK (720-789-8695) Anonymous two-way texting counseling session free of charge

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resource.s for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Call us at 1-800-273-8255

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