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Report calls for different distribution of mental health funding

The Disability Rights Center of Kansas is calling for policy changes to allow more treatment for the mentally ill and more bang for the buck for Kansas taxpayers. Their “Stuck in Institutions” Report talks about Kansans in Nursing Facilities for Mental Health.

“A Nursing Facility for Mental Health is an institution,” said Disability Rights Center of Kansas Executive Director Rocky
Nichols. “Think a really old cinder block nursing facility, congregate setting, which means you have a bunch of people there, typically dozens of people, who typically eat at the same time, do their activities at the same times.”

Those facilities do not have the treatment options that other potential destinations do.

“There isn’t active treatment,” said Nichols. “There isn’t therapy going on. It’s basically just a place for the person where they happen to live, but it’s not a home. It’s just a, we call them in our report, de facto warehouses.”

Kansas is the only state in the nation that operates NFMH institutions. The report says if Kansas were to take the entire
$20 million of state dollars it spends on 635 NFMH institutional beds and instead put it toward Medicaid-eligible community mental health services, it would leverage an additional $30 million in new federal Medicaid match, for a total of approximately $50 million. DRC believes Community Mental Health Centers are where that funding should go.

“All over the state of Kansas, they provide community-based services and support, crisis stabilization, individual
therapy, group therapy, intensive mental health services, the types of things that can help people with mental health
issues recover,” said Nichols.

The vast majority, 69%, of NFMH residents surveyed by DRC want to discharge back into the community while only 9%
said they actually have a discharge plan. Read the full report here.

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