mental health

Maria Carter / KCUR

A 72-bed, private behavioral health hospital opens its doors this week in Olathe amid growing demand for mental health and substance abuse services in an era of uncertain government support.  

Cottonwood Springs Hospital is the 12th behavioral health hospital built or under construction by Springstone Inc., a for-profit company founded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2010 and backed by venture capital.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Several advocates for people with mental illness on Wednesday panned a proposal that would allow treatment facilities to hold people in crisis situations for up to 72 hours as involuntary patients.

“This is a deprivation of liberty,” Mike Burgess, a spokesperson with the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, said during a meeting of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

It would be better, he said, to expand access to voluntary treatment.

Esther Honig

This summer, more than 200 teams from around the world competed in KCRW's third International Radio Race. Participants were given the theme "Time Change" and 24 hours to produce a short radio story.

An advisory committee charged with helping state officials design a system for regulating the use of prescription mental health drugs for Medicaid patients met for the first time Tuesday.

“This is going to be an evolving process,” said Dr. Vishal Adma, a committee member and president of the Kansas Psychiatric Society.

State officials have decided to ask members of a committee charged with critiquing the state’s behavioral health system to continue meeting.

“We don’t want this to be a group that makes recommendations and stops,” said Doug Wallace, housing and homeless specialist at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. “We want this to be an action-oriented group.”

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David Wiebe, one of the best known advocates for people with mental illness in Kansas, died Monday in Fairway at age 76. He had cancer.

“If you step back and look at how, over the decades, Kansas’ mental health system was developed, created and formed to where it is now, you’ll see that he was one of the pioneers,” says Tim DeWeese, executive director at the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

“His service to both the mental health field and to mental health consumers was invaluable,” DeWeese says.

Publik15 / Flickr-CC

Kansas officials have decided against participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a federal initiative that could have generated millions of dollars for behavioral health programs throughout the state.

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A children’s psychiatric facility in Kansas City, Kansas, has agreed to set aside 12 inpatient beds for adults who have been referred to Osawatomie State Hospital but haven’t been admitted due to overcrowding there.

  “This will definitely help with the situation at Osawatomie,” said Kyle Kessler, executive director with the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas.

The additional beds at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital will be available Monday, Kessler said.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A new partnership in southwest Kansas aims to build mental health services and help strengthen a couple of rural hospitals at the same time.

The nonprofit United Methodist Health Ministry Fund is leading an effort to make the health system work better for people in rural Kansas. The fund’s president, Kim Moore, says the current structure based on small, low-volume hospitals isn’t likely to survive long-term.

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The filing of a murder charge against a former patient at the Osawatomie State Hospital is prompting questions about the state’s mental health system.

On May 14, Brandon Brown, 30, was released from a five-day stay at Osawatomie. He was sent to the state hospital after threatening other patients at the Haviland Care Center, a nursing facility in Kiowa County that specializes in treating adults with serious and persistent mental illness.

Cody Newill / KCUR

A new emergency shelter for children in Wyandotte County opening up this summer got a little help from the community Saturday.

The proceeds from the "Luau with Love" at St. Patrick Catholic Church will help fund Robert's Place, a shelter where children in abusive homes can be taken after police have intervened.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas City-area business leaders and health executives are kicking off an effort to make mental health a priority in the workplace.

On Friday, the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care (MACHC) introduced the Right Direction Initiative, a free, ready-to-use communication campaign for businesses that want to improve the mental health of their employees.

A proposal to allow prior authorizations for Medicaid reimbursements on mental health drugs passed its final legislative hurdle Friday.

The measure, which was requested by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration as part of a budget proposal and projected to save $8 million, passed the House 82-31 as part of a small health conference committee package. It passed the Senate 31-6 earlier in the week and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Davis says he fancied himself a tough guy. So when he started exhibiting signs of odd behavior, like never opening the curtains in his house or always driving his convertible with the top down, he ignored them.

It was only after he went to jail for drunk driving, his wife left him and he lost his business that he understood he was in denial.   

Eventually he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

A group of men in the vanguard of a new model of housing for chronically homeless people with mental illnesses sat around a small conference table eating pizza recently in Leavenworth.

It was the monthly social gathering for residents of the Marion Apartments, a single-story, 10-unit complex just off Main Street.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

A Kansas City, Kan., facility meant to improve emergency mental health care was lauded by state officials, mental health service providers and law enforcement officials at a first-anniversary celebration Tuesday.

Rainbow Services Inc. opened April 7, 2014, to provide stabilization services for mental health or substance abuse emergencies. The facility near the University of Kansas Medical Center previously housed the Rainbow Mental Health Facility, a former state mental hospital.

Organizations that advocate on behalf of Kansas adults and children with mental illnesses are asking legislators to adopt a proviso that would protect their budgets for at least another year.

“We are having those conversations now,” said Rick Cagan, executive director with the Kansas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The conversations, he said, are on behalf of NAMI and Keys for Networking, a program that counsels families with children with severe emotional disturbances.

The Kansas Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have allowed KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to regulate mental health patients’ access to antipsychotic medications.

Fifteen Senators voted for Senate Bill 123, while 25 voted against the measure.

Since 2002, Kansas law has guaranteed Medicaid patients access to whatever behavioral health drugs their physician or psychiatrist sees fit to prescribe.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services recently announced that it will not renew its grants with five in-state organizations that advocate for emotionally disturbed children and people with mental illness, developmental disabilities or addiction issues.

The grants, totaling $518,000, end June 30.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

It looks like the state won’t be spending more money on its four hospitals for people whose disabilities or mental illnesses prevent them from safely caring for themselves.

Budget committees in the House and Senate have adopted Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for keeping the hospitals at their current spending levels through fiscal year 2017.

The committees each have forwarded their flat-spending recommendations to their respective chambers.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor


The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is attempting to head off opposition to a bill being crafted to allow the state to regulate the use of prescription mental health drugs.

Kari Bruffett, secretary of KDADS, met Wednesday with the Kansas Mental Health Coalition to ask its members to drop their opposition and instead help her draft a workable bill.

“We are open to having that discussion,” Bruffett said.

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State officials have sold the former Rainbow Mental Health Facility building in Kansas City, Kan., to the University of Kansas Endowment Association.

The 11-acre property at 2205 W. 36th Ave. is a short distance from KU Medical Center.

“The transaction has occurred,” said Natalie Lutz, director of communications at the medical center. “The KU Endowment Association has purchased the building and will be meeting with the university to determine what the actual purpose of the property is going to be.”

Area police departments are looking for was to reduce the numbers of  mentally ill and substance abusers ending up in jail. A new program in Wyandotte and Johnson Counties is helping to address this very issue. Rainbow Services, Inc provides a way for law enforcement officers to bring people they encounter to resources that can help them.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has suspended voluntary admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital, one of the state’s two inpatient facilities for people with serious mental illnesses.

The decision, according to a memo sent to the state’s 26 community mental health centers late Tuesday afternoon, was driven by “ongoing and critical census challenges” at the state hospital. The memo also outlined procedures for handling patients who are involuntarily admitted.

Rex Roof / Creative Commons-Flickr


A legislative committee’s recommendation could reignite a debate over whether the state should have the power to regulate Medicaid reimbursements for mental health medications, as it does for other types of drugs.

High standards. A desire for greater control. A predisposition toward anxiety or depression. These traits are common among people who suffer from eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia. These illnesses are complex, multifaceted and incredibly dangerous. Body image is just the tip of the iceberg.


  • Dr. Ashley McCune, counselor, InSight
  • Jon Smith, patient in recovery

The community mental health center in Topeka on Thursday will formally open a 26-bed crisis intervention center that’s expected to lead to fewer mentally ill adults being referred to Osawatomie State Hospital or ending up in jail.

Michael Price / KCPT

The state of Kansas City's mental health care services is dire, according to a new documentary.

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Michael Price's Lost Minds: KC's Mental Health Crisis focuses on the growing number of fraught confrontations between severely mentally ill people and police on Kansas City's streets. The locally produced documentary airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday on KCPT. 

Johnson County announced Thursday that it has hired a new director for its mental health center.

The new hire is Tim DeWeese, a longtime staff member of the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

For nearly the past two years, DeWeese has served as director of clinical services, overseeing the largest operating division of the center. He has also served the center as director of community support services and as a crisis case-management team leader.

Academic institutions in Missouri and Kansas were awarded federal grants of more than $1.2 million to train mental health providers, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

The grants were among $99 million disbursed by HHS under the Obama administration’s “Now Is the Time” plan aimed at reducing gun violence, increasing access to mental health services and making schools safer, according to a department news release.