mental health

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Nearly 150 mental health inmates currently held at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility will be transferred to the El Dorado Correctional Facility, as part of plan to convert the former into a medium-security prison.

A new law will allow Kansas crisis centers to treat involuntary mental health patients for up to 72 hours, but it isn’t clear if lawmakers will fund it.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday signed House Bill 2053, which allows crisis centers to treat people deemed a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health or substance use disorder. The bill had passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 27-12 after some amendments. 

Lee Winder / Creative Commons

The Texas House of Representatives has proposed a bill that would encourage schools to offer mental health services.

CC0 Public Domain

Scores of Kansans concerned about inadequate mental health resources visited the Kansas Statehouse on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to take notice of the issue. 

KHI News Service File

While staff vacancies at two state-run psychiatric hospitals in Kansas are down, state officials say there is still room for improvement.

Ben Fenwick / Oklahoma Watch

Over the next decade, Oklahoma will need three more prisons if the state doesn’t take action to constrain the prison population, which as The Oklahoman reports, is projected to increase by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

That is more than 7,000 additional prisoners.

ivn.us

Rural Americans continue to struggle to find adequate mental health care. That’s despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act guaranteed that mental and behavioral health treatment would be covered by all health insurance policies sold on the federal health exchange.

However, as IVN reports, psychological coverage does little good if you live in an area where no services are available.

Rural Blog

When it comes to mental health and veterans, rural soldiers are less likely to receive help than their urban counterparts, reports The Rural Blog.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

In many rural areas, maintaining mental health can sometimes come down to finding a ride.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, Transportation is often a barrier for rural dwellers seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment.

Wikimedia Commons

In some parts of rural America, the shortage of mental health professionals has reached crisis level. Yet many states still refuse to support mental health through tax dollars. Experts say America today needs more than 30,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists. Yet the country has fewer than a third of that number, And the need is rising, reports The Rural Blog.

University of Houston/KHOU

College can be extremely isolating and stressful. Some students begin drinking too much or turn to drugs, and some even consider suicide. When Texas students find themselves in dire straits, their options are limited.

The counseling centers at Texas universities are understaffed. According to KERA News and The Texas Tribune, many counselors say they’re frustrated by their inability to reach students.

What appears at first blush to be little more than a contract dispute between a state agency and a University of Kansas research center is actually much more than that.

The state’s failure to renew a contract with the KU Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation is another assault on the state's mental health system, according to the directors of several community mental health centers.

KFOR.com

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is now in crisis mode, reports KFOR. The agency has fallen $20 million behind budget. But when you account for the fact that the agency lost out on federal Medicaid matching funds, the budget gap is more like $60 million.

NewsOK

Oklahoma’s mental health system is fractured and underfunded. The system is “suffocating,” according to a new in-depth NewsOK report. Oklahoma has never made a sustained, significant investment in its mental health system. To quote the NewsOK story, “The majority of low-income, uninsured Oklahomans with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders who need help do not get it.”

Grant Gerlock / NET News

There are fewer than seven persons per square mile in the Nebraska panhandle. That officially classifies the region as a “frontier area.” It also makes it a mental health shortage area, reports Nebraska Public Radio.

Panhandle Events Focus on Mental Health

Sep 28, 2015
Sean Steffen / Amarillo GLobe-News

Mental health took center stage last week in Amarillo, reports Amarillo.com. Two separate events attempted to bring awareness and improvement to psychological wellness in the Texas Panhandle. On Wednesday, health providers held a community mental health summit to discuss how to better serve panhandle veterans. Dr. Michael T. Lambert, chief of mental health services at the Amarillo VA Health Care System, was optimistic.

Mike Hoff / Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas officials have decided against participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a federal initiative that could have generated millions of dollars for behavioral health programs throughout the state.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texas is hoping to attract more mental health care workers, and now the state is putting its money where its mouth is. In recent years, clinics in underserved and rural areas of the Lone Star State have had to get creative—touting clean air and low crime rates to bring in mental health professionals.

Federal regulators are requiring extensive renovations to make the Kansas State Hospitals safer for patients. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary says patients can't be housed in areas where the construction is being done. That means 60 beds have to be emptied. That's affecting the where patients are being referred.

Stephen D/Flickr Commons

A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that men living in rural counties were much more likely to kill themselves than urban men. (Stephen D/Flickr)

An alarming number of farmers in the U.S. take their own lives, according to the magazine Newsweek. And while we don’t have great statistics, some of the best numbers available suggest men on the farm today kill themselves nearly twice as often as other men in the general population.