AP: Brownback unveils mental health program


KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday proposed a $10 million initiative to boost mental health services to targeted populations.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday proposed a $10 million initiative to boost mental health services to targeted populations.

The initiative would direct funding to what Brownback called the most at-risk and challenging mental health patients to meet their specific treatment requirements. The program will not target residents who are receiving services through Medicaid.

The Republican governor announced the proposal in Kansas City, Kan., with Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Department for Aging and Disability Services. Brownback also announced creation of a task force to evaluate the state's mental health system and recommend improvements.

"Families with mentally ill loved ones face daily challenges the rest of us can only imagine," Brownback said in a statement announcing the initiative. "We chose to make our announcement at Wyandot Center because it is representative of Kansas' 27 community mental health centers, which together form our state's critical mental health safety-net system."

Part of the initiative would provide funding to the community mental health centers that demonstrate they are focusing on evidence-based programs that target the populations identified by the governor's initiative.

Sullivan said he expected to see an increase in patients receiving mental health services and an increase in the use of resources that support those individuals as a result of the initiative.

According to figures provided by the governor's office, Kansas has increased spending for mental health services from $156 million in 2000 to more than $438 million in 2013. The bulk of the funding comes through the state's Medicaid system. State grants for community mental health centers have decreased from a high of more than $50 million in 2005 to $37.8 million in 2013, though the state increased those payments by more than $6.5 million in the last year.

Brownback said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that the state should examine whether it's providing sufficient mental health services in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings.

He said Thursday that he would be naming experts from the mental health, medical and criminal justice fields to serve on the task force.

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