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Mental health professional dedicates life to helping others | Local News

Bill Brown said at first he wanted to be a pastor. He wanted a career and a profession that involved helping people. But he didn’t think he had the personality to be a minister.

“I know with God all things are possible but I just didn’t have the faith, I guess, to venture into that, so psychology is a helping profession and I thought that was something I wanted to do, be helpful to people,” Brown said.

For close to 40 years that’s just what Brown did: help people. He helped people through crises and mental and emotional pain through a career as a child, crisis intervention and drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

When Brown retired last week he saw several changes in medicine and treatment in the mental health field during his career. One big thing that impacted the community was the deinstitutionalization of the state hospital he said. More than 1,000 state hospital patients were released into the community and managed through drugs and outpatient treatment.

“It was supposed to be called ‘a hospital without walls’, unfortunately, that’s a misnomer because you can’t supervise those who are living in an apartment or homes as closely as they could at a hospital so there were some difficulties but overall it’s been extremely successful,” Brown said.

Brown graduated from Missouri Western State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and got his master’s degree from Central Missouri State University before he started working at Family Guidance Center in 1978. That was shortly before the agency received a community health center grant to begin serving patients from the state hospital.

In those early days, Brown’s office was in one of the dorm rooms at the old Sister’s hospital. The office had no air-conditioning, a desk the size of a McDonald’s serving tray and a chair with a spring popping right up through the middle.

“This was quite an awakening as to what it might be like to work for a nonprofit agency,” he said,

Eventually, the organization grew to have more than 200 employees and serve a nine-county area.

Brown said he will miss the camaraderie of his fellow workers and traveling to assignments in the center’s coverage area. But he’s content to spend his days on his idyllic and lush home spread and enjoy his family. Un-retiring is not on his mind.

“What I plan to do now is just church involvement, Gideon International member, lot of volunteer work I can do there, got a couple of grandchildren, finally got old enough to be a grandpa,” he said. “We also have an acreage I can work on, pull weeds and cut down firewood and just take a walk and soak up the nature if I want to.”

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