Mental health treatment complicated by shortage of professionals

Only four of the state's 105 counties have enough behavioral health professionals to meet demands of the population.

By

State News

April 15, 2022 - 2:31 PM

Psychologist Shawna Wright, far right, recommended the judicial system reforms aimed at helping individuals with mental illness should avoid reinventing the wheel in favor of modifying proven ideas to the target city or county. Photo by (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Psychologist Shawna Wright said only four of the state’s 105 counties have enough behavioral health professionals to meet demands of the population, and that shortage contributes to looping of mentally ill people in and out of the criminal justice system.

“We need quality behavioral health care in Kansas regardless of geography,” she said. “We’re still very underserved.”

The Rural Health Information Hub, a statistical resource funded by a federal grant, indicated the cluster of Johnson, Wyandotte, Douglas and Shawnee counties in the northeast part of the state had sufficient personnel to serve community needs. In 2017, part of Sedgwick County was covered. Now, the entire county is considered underserved.

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