Improving the Mental Health System in Kansas

April 18, 2023

The COVID-19 National Emergency has now come to an end. And while that doesn’t mean that we’re living in a “post-COVID” world, I think many of us would agree that we can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. But if you ask me, there has been a silver lining to come from the pandemic. It helped us normalize mental health and the need for support.

The Unified Government Public Health Department has identified the need for mental health care as one of the biggest health needs in Wyandotte County. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Over the past three years, the majority of us have struggled with our mental health to some degree – whether that was due to the loss of a loved one, personal illness, financial insecurity or the loss of connection to others.

For far too long, Kansas has inadequately funded the mental health system. The 2023 State of Mental Health in America report found that Kansas has a high prevalence of mental illness and inadequate access to care. But thankfully, the mental health system in Kansas is taking a step in the right direction as more community mental health centers across the state become Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs).

May 1 will mark one year since Wyandot BHN became a CCBHC. Being a CCBHC is about more than just a title. The CCBHC model is helping to make mental health care more accessible. Since becoming certified, we have been able to expand walk-in access, allowing an individual to come in and receive an assessment the same day. This means that someone can seek out services on their timeline, instead of scheduling an intake for a week or two down the road. We have also been able to expand our mobile crisis response teams, which respond to and help de-escalate mental health crises in the community.

People across Kansas deserve to be able to access quality mental health care on their timeline, especially in light of everything we’ve experienced over the past three years. I’m encouraged by the improvements that are being made to the mental health system in Kansas. There is still work to be done, but I believe we are moving in the right direction.