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This series by Eric Litwiller of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas looks at mental health in the Wichita area. It is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Commentary: We should all learn about our local resources and who to call in an emergency

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John Tuesday
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A huge part of breaking down the stigma of mental illness is increasing the understanding of, and education around, that mental illness. Nearly all of us would know what to do and who to call if we witnessed a physical health emergency on the street. Yet many of us have seen mental health crises and chosen to either keep walking, or call the police. Our city and county law enforcement officers do fantastic work, but they are not equipped or resourced to be mental health professionals. As a result, people who simply need health care may end up behind bars just because the medical issue was a mental one and not a physical one.

The mental health care facilities throughout the city of Wichita provide an astounding array of services, from emergency stabilization to inpatient care to therapy, medication management, supported employment, long-term housing, and much more. And if one organization doesn’t provide a particular service, they know who in the city does. It is vital that each of us learns about our local resources, and who to call in an emergency. Numbers like the National Suicide Hotline, and the phone number for at least one of our local comprehensive mental health care non-profits should be programmed into all of our mobile phones. In addition, mental health crisis cards are available in a growing number of locations throughout Wichita, and we should all know how to use those for the moment someone in need hands theirs to us.