People push for more money to mental health centers in Kansas

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – People are pushing for better access and more money to mental health centers in the state.

Twenty-six centers serve more than 140,000 Kansans across the state. Some advocates said the state isn’t spending enough on them.

“Service access is the biggest issue, if you have fewer staff, then their caseloads are a little larger, which means their schedules are more full,” said Greg Hennen, Four County Mental Health Center executive director.

The lack of workers can leave people that need services, and those around them, in harm’s way.

“When they don’t access care, jails end up seeing a little bit more increase in the mental health population that they’re housing, and the state hospitals also become overpopulated, so our goal is to keep people in the community, close to home, close to family and productive citizens,” Hennen said.

The Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas released a new poll Monday that shows 76% of people said the state should spend more on mental health issues.

“We can say it presents a responsibility to act and support of mental health,” said the group’s CEO, Kyle Kessler. “That is something that is shared by policymakers whether they are in cabinet positions, or legislators, or the governor’s office.”

County Department of Corrections officials are also looking for solutions.

“Determine what resources are available at all levels throughout the system of criminal justice, said Brian Cole, director for the Shawnee County Department of Corrections. “Trying to find alternatives to keep them from coming to jail because that is the most expensive alternative.”

Supporters said more competitive pay will decrease losing mental health workers to bordering states like Missouri and Oklahoma.

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