Johnson County Approves $ 1.9 Million Grants to Expand Mental Health Services | KCUR 89.3

Johnson County Mental Health Services recently received a big boost through grants, allowing county commissioners to add more than 14 full-time equivalent positions in a variety of capacities.

County commissioners voted earlier this month to accept more than $ 1.9 million in federal, state and local grants to allow jobs to be added to services such as:

  • a program for former incarcerated people with mental health or addiction problems;
  • the transition to a national suicide prevention number;
  • services for Johnson County Community College students.

Since the jobs are funded by grants, they would end when the grant expires, unless other funding is found. The positions do not require additional county tax money.

The biggest additions come from the Suicide Prevention Hotline, which will add 6.75 full-time equivalents, and the Former Inmate Program, which would add 4.5.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office would add a Mental Health Co-Advocate, the JCCC would get a clinical position on campus, and one person would be added to an Olathe classroom program to deter teen alcoholism, tobacco and substance abuse. and young adults.

New suicide hotline number

A decision by the Federal Communications Commission in July 2020 is setting up an easy-to-remember number, 9-8-8, for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. (Currently, the national suicide prevention line is 1-800-273-TALK.)

By July 2022, the new, simpler number should be operational.

Any call originating from an area code 913 will be routed to the Johnson County Mental Health Call Center at Mental health center Mission office, said Tanner Fortney, operations director for the county’s mental health department.

This applies even if the person has kept a 913 number but has moved out of the area.

The one-time $ 600,000 transition grant from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services enables the mental health center to hire and train people to staff the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The mental health center received more than 43,000 crisis calls in 2020, an increase of about 10,000 from the pre-pandemic times, according to county data. The number of successful suicides among the centre’s clients was 10, up from 16 in 2019 and 22 in 2018.

Since this is a permanent hotline, Fortney said the county may need to find funds to fill these positions after the grant runs out.

Services for former prisoners

The county would add 4.5 full-time equivalent employees to help recently incarcerated people with mental health or addiction issues manage their reintegration into the community.

The idea, Fortney said, is to prevent returns to prison, which is more likely if mental issues and drug addiction are involved.

The two-year grant of $ 927,513 from the federal government Administration of Addiction and Mental Health Services would be available with some restrictions for volunteers, he said.

About 200 potential participants are expected over the program’s two years, Fortney added.

People with mental health and substance abuse problems are disproportionately more likely to end up in prison again and are also more likely to suffer from other health conditions that may worsen in prison, according to a staff document. on the program.

Grant money goes to clinical support for these people, as well as direct assistance which could include transportation, clothing, food, and financial assistance.

Based on the cost of $ 202 per day of a jail stay, the county could save $ 557,762 over the grant period, Fortney said.

This is less than the expense of the grant, but he noted that the program is expected to have a lingering effect for its beneficiaries in the years to follow.

Clinician at JCCC

The county will use a $ 98,000 grant to pay an on-campus clinician to help JCCC students cope with mental health issues.

This position would be funded 75% by the community college, with the remaining 25% coming from the county in the form of an Overland Park-based grant. REACH Foundation for Health.

The county has been working to implement similar programs in other schools as post-pandemic demand for mental health services has increased, Fortney said.

“The need for case management has been enormous because so many are suffering from clinical depression,” he said.

Co-sponsor for the sheriff’s office

A grant of $ 186,000 from the United States Department of Justice Community policing development crisis intervention teams will be used to hire another co-sponsor for the sheriff’s office.

The office already has a co-sponsor, and the program has been popular with law enforcement as it keeps people out of prisons and emergency rooms who might be better served by other types of interventions. said Tom Dugan, director of finance for the sheriff’s office. .

The co-respondents are mental health professionals who accompany law enforcement during calls.

Last year, the sheriff’s co-respondent made 106 calls and had 327 additional contacts, Dugan said. Yet the current co-respondent is only on duty about a quarter of the hours in a week, according to staff documents.

The program has also been popular with municipal police departments in Johnson County.

Fortney estimated there were 18 co-sponsors working across the county, with another expected soon for Olathe. He said the program brings in about $ 2.50 for every dollar spent in savings for hospitals and the justice system, as well as benefits to the person.

The grant is for two years.

Drug prevention efforts in schools

Another one-time grant of $ 125,000 from the Centers for Disease Control Drug Free Communities will add an employee to the Olathe Coalition Caring Communities.

The coalition is a group formed in 2008 that focuses on reducing alcohol and tobacco use among adolescents.

The coalition will add more community engagement with families to its work this year, Fortney said.

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