(Springfield, MO) – The boards of directors for Forest Institute and Burrell Behavioral Health approved this week a decision to merge the two Springfield-based organizations. Founded in 1977, Burrell is a non-profit behavioral health care organization with nearly 900 staff, operating from 27 locations in a 17-county service area in Southwest and Central Missouri. They provide comprehensive clinical, educational, and consultative services to about 30,000 clients each year. Forest, established in 1979, is an accredited not-for profit independent graduate school with a staff of 56 and a body of 281 masters and doctoral students training to be psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and applied behavior analysts. Through its Robert J. Murney Clinic, Forest provides over 10,000 client contact hours annually, many of which are to underserved or indigent populations. The merger will establish and expand opportunities for training the next generation of mental health professionals, facilitate development of a nationally recognized center for behavioral sciences research, and help the organizations better meet the behavioral health needs of the citizens of Southwest Missouri and the Ozarks region.
The rationale for the merger is based on several compelling factors. First, Forest and Burrell have a long history of working together, and share overlapping missions in key areas including clinical services, education, training, and research. Also, changes in health care delivery, including focus on integrated health care teams and evidence-based practice, are driving the need for more experiential-based education and training of behavioral health providers. Further, the merger will provide for efficient maximization of resources, including deployment and engagement of student trainees for service-learning, sharing of clinical staff, improving operational efficiencies, and seeking collaborative grant funding opportunities.
The merging organizations envision an innovative model that will capitalize on the respective strengths of the partners. Forest graduate students will have new opportunities for experiential learning, applying what they are learning in the classroom about psychological intervention and research methods to real-world problems, clients, and issues. Burrell will benefit from access to highly qualified clinical faculty to support grant development, program evaluation, and applied research initiatives.
While the commitment to merge is effective immediately, the final closing of the merger agreement is dependent upon accrediting and regulatory body approvals.
Forest Institute – Dr. Mark Skrade, President (417) 823-3450
Burrell Behavioral Health – Dr. Todd Schaible, President (417) 761-5050