Wichita, Kansas Therapists
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Overview of Mental Health in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the state of Kansas. At the end of 2017 there were 391,586 residents.
Funding issues, along with the stigma attached to mental health, has led to a social crisis in America. Today, most of the nation’s cities are facing a significant challenge: How to care for their growing mental health care needs when the resources are not available? Despite these challenges, the city of Wichita has made progress in addressing this dilemma.
The last mental health hospital to be closed in Kansas was the Topeka State Hospital, which was in 1997. The closures were not followed up with investments into community health service centers. Jails and other correctional facilities became the recipients of individuals with mental illness.
Kansas did not expand its Medicaid program (known as KanCare) as the Supreme Court ruled that states had discretion as to whether they wanted to participate in the Affordable Care Act. The result is that those whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private insurance, are left without coverage. One-third of all Kansans, who have a mental illness, fall into this category.
Working toward a Solution
The Kansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, which was conducted in 2013, revealed that more than 40% of Sedgwick County’s residents reported that their physical or mental health prevented them from meeting their self-care needs, from working or engaging in recreation. Budget cuts at the state and federal level have taken their toll on mental health providers, resulting in the county’s vulnerable population to fend for themselves.
Innovation by Wichita’s mental health providers to address this gap in care is showing results. Comcare has been the leading mental health care provider in Sedgwick County for over 20 years and is the state’s largest agency for community mental health. Recognizing the need to improve access to care, it has restructured its operations to provide coordinated care by forming the Community Crisis Center (CCC). CCC’s “one-stop shopping” approach toward delivering services includes the following:
- A crisis hotline for people who are struggling with mental health issues. The line is staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week. They receive 70,000 calls a year.
- Sobering and detox units which allow those with substance abuse issues to get sober and then seek counseling and other support services within the same location.
- A 23-hour crisis observation unit which provides individuals with a safe place to handle their immediate mental health issues. Individuals are assigned a therapist who can determine if higher levels of care are required.
The CCC is also a valued partner for law enforcement. They can bring someone to the center and resume their patrol within 15 minutes or less, a significant time-saver when compared to the wait time in a hospital emergency room. When considering all the ways that mental health issues cost the community, a study by Wichita State University concluded that CCC had saved Wichita between $17-24 million.