Governor Laura Kelly reinforces ongoing work to make mental health care affordable and accessible

WICHITA-Governor Laura Kelly met with Sedgwick County leaders today to discuss the need for a public mental health hospital in the area. The meeting included a round table and a visit to the COMCARE crisis center.

“When I came to power, one of my top priorities was to strengthen our mental health system,”Governor Laura Kelly said. “I am grateful to local leaders and advocates for meeting with me today to discuss how we can improve mental health care in Wichita and across the state, including supporting a new public health hospital mental.”

In addition to the need for a regional hospital in south-central Kansas, they also discussed what the Kelly administration has done to meet Kansas’ mental health care needs and how to continue to expand access to necessary services.

Since taking office, the Kelly administration has continuously worked on bipartisan solutions to expand access to mental health. These initiatives include:

  • Reform 26 Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC) to be certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) with the ability to address mental health and addiction crises through integrated physical and behavioral care.
  • Increase state capacity to provide mental health care to Kansans closer to home by bringing new youth facilities onlineworking to lift the moratorium in Osawatomie and growing the states workforce through the 24/7 Compensation Plan.
  • Invest in the Mental Health Response Team program. Governor Kelly provided $33 million in funding for the program and grew the program from 9 districts to 67 and from 1,708 students to nearly 5,000 served each year.
  • Additional funding to address the skills assessment and recovery process at Larned State Hospital and funding additional mobile skills and recovery services through community mental health centers.
  • Launch of the 9-8-8 hotline for suicide prevention and mental health crises, enabling all Kansans who may be facing a mental health emergency to dial 988 and receive professional support .

During a tour of the COMCARE crisis center, she got an overview of the services offered by Sedgwick County, including the operations of the 9-8-8 helpline.

“Even though we’ve come a long way in the past four years, I know we still have a long way to go,” she said. “My administration will continue to work with mental health leaders and the legislature to expand access to affordable and effective mental health care.”

Roundtable participants today included Laura Howard, Secretary of the Department of Aging and Disability Services; House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer; Tom Stolz, Sedgwick County Executive; Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple; Robyn Chadwick, President of Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph; Tim Kaufman, Deputy County Manager of Sedgwick County; Jeff Easter, Sedgwick County Sheriff; Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis; Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett; and Wichita Police Department Captain Jason Cooley.

Photos from today’s roundtable and tour are available for media below:

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