mental health


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback this week signed bills that prevent privatizing troubled state mental hospitals unless lawmakers approve. There have been staff shortages and other issues at the Larned and Osawatomie state hospitals.

Tim Keck, interim secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, has said in the past he wants to at least consider the option of privatizing state hospitals. This week, Brownback was asked by a reporter if privatizing the facilities is a long-term solution for the problems.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Each winter, dozens of homeless men are able to find a warm place to sleep at a shelter near downtown Wichita. It's run by Inter-Faith Ministries, a nonprofit that provides mats, blankets, and also dinner. But once spring sets in, the shelter is closed, and it’s often back to the streets for those who sleep there. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports on the difficult process of getting these men into a permanent home.

Mike Sherry / KHI News

Wyandot Inc., an umbrella organization for four nonprofit agencies in Kansas City, Kansas, that serve the mentally ill and the homeless, has eliminated 26 positions. 

The agency, which has been around since 1953, has been hit hard by Kansas’ decision to get rid of two programs that accounted for more than $1 million of its revenues.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Steve Feinstein was superintendent of Osawatomie State Hospital from 1994 to 1998. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and got involved in mental health issues when he was hired to run a state mental hospital in eastern Oregon.

Although he’s retired now, the Louisburg, Kansas, resident continues to pay close attention to what’s going on at Osawatomie, one of two state-run hospitals for the severely mentally ill. In a recent interview, he spoke to Dan Margolies about the Kansas hospital’s slew of recent troubles.

Phil Cauthon for the KHI News Service

Problems at the Osawatomie State Hospital for Kansans with mental illness are creating challenges for some hospital emergency rooms across the state.

A cap on admissions at Osawatomie is leaving some people with severe and persistent mental illness with nowhere to go when they’re in crisis. So, more are showing up in the emergency rooms of community hospitals that aren’t equipped to treat them.

Allan Ajifo

Mental health issues are a top priority in the president’s plan to reduce gun violence.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, says it will be watching to make sure proposed rule changes treat mentally ill patients and their families fairly.

The president’s plan calls for adding information from the Social Security Administration to the background check system used by people who are purchasing guns.

Rick Cagan of the Kansas branch of NAMI is worried about this change because he says the vast majority of individuals with mental illness are not violent.

Phil Cauthon for the KHI News Service

Security issues connected to a sexual assault are among the reasons the Osawatomie State Hospital is out of compliance with federal regulations. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim reports, federal officials are withholding Medicare payments until the problems are corrected.

Staffing shortages and security lapses at the state mental health hospital led to the reported sexual assault of a worker by a patient in October.

The female employee was assaulted while delivering gowns to patient rooms. Other patients came to her aide while the assault was in progress.

For 85 years, the Wichita Child Guidance Center has helped thousands of children cope with life’s challenges.

Recently, the renowned mental health center faced its own challenge: moving out of its longtime home and into a new location.

The clinical services will continue, but as KMUW’s Deborah Shaar reports, the transition signals the final chapter for the Wichita Child Guidance Center.

Allan Ajifo, flickr Creative Commons

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office wants the county to commit to reducing the number of jail inmates who are seriously mentally ill.

The office will ask the county commissioners to commit to the reduction during a meeting today.

Mike Brouwer is re-entry director for the sheriff's office, he says the request is part of a national initiative and coincides with recent developments on a potential county jail expansion and a mental health crisis intervention center project.

A Wichita organization will begin a new program next month to help people with mental illnesses cope with stressful situations.

Episcopal Social Services plans to launch a one-year project in November that will provide classes for adults with serious mental health issues.

Executive director Barbara Andres says evidence-based training will be used to teach people the tools they need to successfully navigate a conflict or difficult situation.