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Health

Wichita State Group Part Of $9 Million Grant To Improve Youth Mental Health Services

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55Laney69, flickr Creative Commons
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As part of a four-year, $9 million System of Care federal grant, Wichita State's Center for Behavioral Health Initiatives (CBHI) at WSU's Community Engagement Institute is working to help children with serious emotional disturbances. The CBHI will also be contracting with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services.

The grant money will be used in partnership with four mental health centers statewide -- Compass Behavioral Health, WyanDOT Center, Sumner Mental Health and South Central Mental Health -- to offer training and support both in-person and online. The centers will, in turn, partner with local and regional organizations, families and youth to address the needs of severely emotionally disturbed children from birth to age 21.

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Credit wichita.edu
Randy Johnson, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Initiatives at at WSU's Community Engagement Institute.

Randy Johnson, director of the CBHI, says the partnership will help to provide services that would be otherwise unavailable -- for example, improving services for an underserved linguistic population.

"If they say we really need to do a better job of reaching families who are primarily Spanish-speaking, this agreement would work to support that connection and to build that network of services in that community," Johnson says.

He says the partnership is about more than improving just mental health services.

"Our partners, including the kids and parents who benefit, will be creating new solutions that make sense in their communities and cut across all the systems involved in helping children with emotional or behavioral challenges," he says.

According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 21,000 adolescents in Kansas faced serious depression in 2014. Nearly 60 percent did not receive treatment. That same year, 89 percent of youth struggling with substance use issues did not receive treatment.

According to a statement from Scott Wituk, executive director of the Community Engagement Institute, the institute has worked with the mental health service system for more than 20 years.

"This grant builds upon that foundation while creating new opportunities for us, the community mental health centers and the Kansas mental health system," Wituk said.

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Follow Abigail Beckman on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

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