Published on May 27, 2022

Students Benefit from Mental Health Services offered through Ozarks Healthcare Zizzer Clinic

As May, also recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, comes to an end, Ozarks Healthcare is marking the completion of its first full school year having mental health services readily available onsite for students at the West Plains School District through its Zizzer Clinic. During the 2021 – 2022 school year, two mental health therapists from Ozarks Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Center (BHC) served approximately 80 students through therapy. BHC staff also provided 40 students with community support services.

“Just our sheer numbers alone speak to there definitely being a need for mental health services,” Raegan Fox, Coordinator of Outreach Services at the West Plains School District, said. “We started with one therapist from BHC and quickly filled her schedule. By the end of the school year, we had her at the Zizzer Clinic four days a week and another therapist here on another day of the week. Having them here has been a weight lifted. Kids can’t learn if they’re not in the right frame of mind and have other situations going on. This is one of those barriers we can take away.”

In addition to providing routine healthcare checks and the treatment of minor injuries or illnesses, the Ozarks Healthcare Zizzer Clinic also now houses behavioral healthcare for students of all ages. Clinic staff, therapists, and school counselors work together to make sure students who need care are able to get transportation to the clinic and work around their class schedules.

“When a student is 18 years old, he or she has more verbal skills to reach out for help than a student who may be six years old,” Fox said. “Our school counselors know when we’re outside of our scope. They will make those calls to students’ families and share about Ozarks Healthcare’s BHC services on campus. If we have the family’s consent, we’ll start paperwork immediately so the student can get started with mental health services.”

Earlier this year, the West Plains School District showed their focus on youth mental health through sponsoring an event with Ozarks Healthcare’s BHC that featured award-winning mental health and suicide prevention activist and speaker Kevin Hines. Hines spoke to a packed arena of students from local students across the region at the West Plains Civic Center in March. In 2000, 19-year-old Hines attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Hines now travels the world sharing his story with people of all ages, along with the art of wellness and the ability to survive pain with true resilience.

In the 2022 – 2023 school year, Ozarks Healthcare will add a full-time therapist and additional community support specialists (CSS) to the staff at its Zizzer Clinic.

“Community support specialists are responsible for supporting and providing healthcare services for youth with mental health diagnoses,” Billie Weaver, Youth Team Supervisor at Ozarks Healthcare’s BHC, said. “Our community support specialists help youth learn skills that will increase success in the community, at home, and with their peers.”

Community support specialists and therapists through Ozarks Healthcare’s BHC services at its Zizzer Clinic can also assist students in learning positive coping skills, anger management, problem solving, depression and anxiety management, communication, self-harm de-escalation, and more.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ozarks Healthcare’s BHC has seen an increase in demand for mental health services. School districts are experiencing the same issue, Fox said.

“I think the pandemic has amplified everything,” Fox said. “Kids and their families are facing bigger and more serious issues than ever. When our youth lack healthy coping skills, they turn to risky behaviors. I love that relationship of getting to work with Ozarks Healthcare’s BHC. It’s so good for our kids and community. Having that open line of communication between our parents and teachers and counselors all together and helps us educate our kids better.”

The Ozarks Healthcare Zizzer Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. for appointments and walk-ins through the end of June. The clinic will be closed through July and will reopen Aug. 1 for summer break. It is located at 1013 College St. in West Plains. The Ozarks Healthcare Zizzer Clinic currently serves students, staff, and faculty from the West Plains School District (including South Fork Elementary), as well as students from the South Central Career Center in West Plains.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 417-505-7123.  

Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing primary care and specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home health services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire health system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more information about Ozarks Healthcare, visit

Kristina Ledbetter (left) and Tianna Niesen (right), both mental health therapists at Ozarks Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Center (BHC), served the mental health needs of students at the West Plains School District through Ozarks Healthcare’s Zizzer Clinic in the 2021 – 2022 school year. Approximately 80 students received therapy services, and 40 received community support services through BHC’s first full school year of working through the Ozarks Healthcare Zizzer Clinic. 

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