Kansas News Service

While the pandemic will be remembered as a major public health crisis, it was a significant mental health emergency as well.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW/File photo

Crisis care in the Wichita area is about to undergo a major overhaul.

A new plan released Thursday lays out the steps to improving mental health and substance abuse services over the next five years.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW/File photo

Behavioral health initiatives dominate Sedgwick County’s list of state legislative priorities for a second year.

That’s because several key issues didn’t advance last session, including the push for the state to establish a regional mental health facility in Sedgwick County.

Sedgwick County

Sedgwick County commissioners approved the $457 million 2020 budget at their weekly meeting Wednesday.

Multiple organizations in Wichita that provide mental health, substance abuse and homeless services plan to team up with the police department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

They all will work together to prevent people who are seeking care from getting lost in the system.

“Over the last few years, recognizing that with the systems that are siloed … you had mental health, you had substance abuse, homelessness and all of them with different missions and with different monies,” said Harold Casey, executive director of the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas.

KMUW/File photo

A program that offers mental health services at 22 Wichita schools is finishing its first year with signs of success.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

A program that offers mental health services at Wichita schools is showing signs of success.

Comcare Executive Director Joan Tammany gave a progress report at a Sedgwick County Commission meeting last week. She says the program is right where it needs to be at the halfway point of the school year.

Comcare hired therapists and case managers for 22 schools in the Wichita district. The behavioral health intervention teams are assessing and treating students by referral at six elementary schools, six middle schools, five high schools and five special day schools.

A national program recently introduced in Wichita is helping people with serious mental illness get the support they need through the Sedgwick County Court system.

The Assisted Outpatient Treatment program helps people suffering from anosognosia, which impairs a person from perceiving his or her illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Gerry Lichti coordinates community projects for NAMI Wichita, a local mental illness support group. He says clients have been issued a court order requiring them to follow a mental health treatment plan.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

Sedgwick County is adding a new full-time position within the Sheriff’s Office to work on the growing problem of jail inmates who have drug or alcohol addictions.

Sedgwick County AFSP / File photo

A new report says the suicide rates for Sedgwick County and Kansas are consistently higher than the national rate. The Sedgwick County Suicide Prevention Coalition presented its annual report to county commissioners Wednesday.