Friday, January 11, 2013

Governor Brownback announces new Kansas Mental Health Initiative

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced this week an initiative to provide $10 million in  targeted funding to better provide mental health services to the state’s most at-risk and challenging populations, as well as the creation of a panel of experts to re-evaluate Kansas’ current mental health system and make recommendations for improvements. 

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D., Aging and Disabilities Services Sec. Shawn Sullivan and Corrections Sec. Ray Roberts joined the Governor for the plan’s unveiling at Wyandot Center Community Behavioral Health Care, Wyandotte County’s community mental health center that serves the Kansas City area.

“Families with mentally ill loved ones face daily challenges the rest of us can only imagine,” Governor Brownback said. “We chose to make our announcement at Wyandot Center because it is representative of Kansas 27 community mental health centers, which together form  our state’s critical mental health safety-net system. “

“These publically funded community centers work tirelessly to provide accessible, affordable care to those affected. They bring hope to Kansans and their families. I am committed to strengthening this system and making it more effective,” Governor Brownback said.

The initiative will provide targeted funding to better serve Kansas most at-risk and challenging populations.

Some mental health patients, despite having access to care, are resistant to treatment and refuse to engage with organizations that can help them. These individuals often end up in crisis and experience repeat hospitalizations.

“This is an area in which our mental health system can be transformed,” Lt. Gov. Colyer said. “This new initiative, like KanCare, will coordinate services around a person’s specific needs. However, this program will target people who are not on Medicaid.”

The Governor’s proposal would establish a collective regional system of services for the most challenging cases, including intensive case management, care coordination, parent- and peer- support services, crisis-stabilization services and other evidenced-based practices.

It also would provide funding to all 27 CMHCs that demonstrate they are focusing on evidence-based programs that target at-risk and challenging consumers.

“We expect this new initiative to result in increasing patient engagement and increased us of the resources that can support these individuals, regardless of where they live in Kansas,” said Sec. Sullivan.

“I expect the new task force to perform a thorough evaluation of our current mental health system and make recommendations for improvements. Task force members will be experts in mental health, medicine, and criminal justice,” the Governor said. “While many Kansans and their families currently live under the dark cloud of mental illness, my hope is that this new initiative will be the start of a brighter day.“