Governor Laura Kelly Reinforces Continued Work to Make Mental Health Care
Affordable and Accessible 

WICHITA – Governor Laura Kelly met today with Sedgwick County-area leaders to discuss the need for a state mental health hospital in the region. The meeting included a roundtable discussion and a tour of COMCARE Crisis Center.   

“When I came into office, one of my highest priorities was strengthening our mental health system,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I’m thankful to local leaders and advocates for meeting with me today to discuss how we can improve mental health care in Wichita and across the state, including by supporting a new state mental health hospital.” 

In addition to the need for a regional hospital in Southcentral Kansas, they also discussed what the Kelly Administration has done to address Kansas’ mental health care needs, and how to continue expanding access to needed services. 

Since taking office, the Kelly Administration has continuously worked on bipartisan solutions to expand mental health access. Those initiatives include: 

  • Reforming 26 Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) to be Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) with capabilities to treat mental health and substance abuse crises through integrated physical-behavioral care.  
  • Expanding the state’s capacity to provide mental health care to Kansans closer to home by bringing new youth facilities online, working to lift the moratorium at Osawatomie, and increasing the states’ workforce through the 24/7 pay plan
  • Investing in the Mental Health Intervention Teams Program. Governor Kelly has provided $33 million in funding for the program and has grown the program from 9 districts to 67 and from 1,708 students to close to 5,000 served annually. 
  • Added funding to address the competency evaluation and restoration process at Larned State Hospital and fund additional mobile competency and restoration services through community mental health centers. 
  • Launching the 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline, allowing any Kansans who may be experiencing a mental health emergency to dial 988 and receive professional support.  

While on a tour of COMCARE Crisis Center, she got a glimpse of services offered by Sedgwick County, including the 9-8-8 Hotline operations. 

“Even though we have come a long way over the last four years, I know there is still so much we need to do,” she said. “My Administration will continue working with mental health leaders and the legislature to expand access to affordable, effective mental health care.” 

Participants in today’s roundtable included Department of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Laura Howard; House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer; Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz; Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple; Robyn Chadwick, President of Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph; Tim Kaufman, Assistant County Manager for Sedgwick County; Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter; Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis; Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett; and Wichita Police Department Captain Jason Cooley. 

Photos from today’s roundtable and tour are available for media use can be found below: