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Kansas expands by 32% number of adult, child psychiatric beds during past four years


Kansas expands by 32% number of adult, child psychiatric beds during past four years

Mar 09, 2023 | 12:04 pm ET
By Tim Carpenter
Kansas expands by 32% number of adult, child psychiatric beds during past four years
Gov. Laura Kelly marked Kansas Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capitol by announcing the number of adult and child psychiatric beds in Kansas had increased 32% during the past four years to nearly 1,000. A Kansas legislative committee has endorsed a plan to open a 50-bed state hospital in Sedgwick County. (Submitted)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly said the number of adult and child psychiatric beds increased by one-third in Kansas during the past four years as the state responded to the shortage of inpatient services for people struggling with mental illness.

Kansas now has 212 inpatient beds for children, 318 adult inpatient beds at psychiatric facilities and 424 beds in psychiatric residential treatment facilities. That represented increases since 2019 of 42 beds for children, 75 beds at adult psychiatric facilities and 116 beds at resident treatment facilities. Overall, Kansas added 233 beds during the four-year period for a total of 954, representing a 32% rise in availability.

Kelly said lack of specialized beds was one of the most significant barriers to delivery of mental health care to Kansans statewide.

“A 30% increase in capacity reflects a major step forward,” the governor said. “Now, we must continue our progress in addressing the mental health crisis here in Kansas by reducing the stigma around mental illness and substance use disorders and by dedicating additional much-needed resources to these challenges.”

The state relied on federal funding to help 13 community mental health centers expand access to mental health services and to support certified community behavioral health clinics. The state established KansasAgStress.org to share information on mental health issues with farmers and ranchers, while expanding mental health programs in schools and implementing the 988 crisis and suicide prevention hotline.

“We have made great strides in Kansas toward funding mental health and recovery services and building compassionate and cost-effective programs and policies that can improve the lives of adults and children living with mental illness,” said Laura Howard, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

In November 2022, an interim committee of the Legislature recommended adding up to 50 beds by establishing a new state hospital in the Sedgwick County area. The expansion was sought by local governments, law enforcement leaders and others eager to address a concentration of individuals with psychiatric challenges in south-central Kansas.

Another issue discussed by legislators has been the shortage of mental health and developmental disability technicians across the state.