Governor Sam Brownback today received the formal report from the Governor's Mental Health Task Force, which he appointed in 2013 to evaluate the state's mental health system and determine ways to make it more effective.
In July 2013 the Governor appointed 16 individuals representing a diverse mix of disciplines and academic backgrounds to prepare the task force report. They were tasked with looking for ways to enhance collaboration among the state agencies that administer mental help programs and for ways to better utilize the resources the state dedicates to behavioral health. The task force worked with behavioral health staff from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability services, as well as other agencies, to complete its assessment.
"I appointed this task force with the goal of identifying the frayed elements of Kansas' mental health safety net and helping to determine what we need to make it stronger in order to better serve the people of our state," said Governor Brownback. "I appreciate all of the hard work and long hours the task force members and other Kansans from around the state put in to creating this report. I gave them the difficult task of examining a very complex set of issues. I would like to thank them for their contributions to making Kansas a better state for all its residents, in particular our most vulnerable."
The task force met in person on six occasions, conducted five round-table discussions in communities across the state, and participated in three teleconferences. Governor Brownback attended the task force meeting on February 12, 2014 and discussed their deliberations to that date.
"I looked forward to reading this report and working to determine which of their recommendations we want to implement. We will have more concrete information about our future plans to talk about during Mental Health Awareness Month in May," the Governor said.
In its summary, the task force wrote, "Our collective observation is that Kansas is building from a foundation of strength and excellence. Our hope is that these recommendations will contribute to an integrated, multi-systemic effort to improve the health and wellness of all Kansans through effective person-centered, recovery-oriented behavioral health care We challenge the readers of this report to continue to shape the behavioral health care system and bolster support within communities "
The goals set by the Governor for the task force were to:
Determine what state agencies and communities can do to better identify, treat, and support individuals with mental illness to live meaningful and productive lives in their community. This includes individuals who:
Currently use the mental health system
Are not reached by appropriate mental health services
Are at risk of serious life disruption due to exacerbation of mental health symptoms.
Identify and recommend specific community solutions that have the potential to minimize and prevent the exacerbation of chronic mental health conditions and support individuals to live meaningful and productive lives in their community
Members of the task are were: Co-Chair Dr. Rick Goscha, Lawrence; Co-Chair Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, Wichita; Captain Bill Cochran, Topeka; Judge Tom Webb, Sublette; Dr. Steven Davies, Horton; Dr. Rick Gaskill, Wichita; Amanda Adkins, Kansas City; Ric Dalke, Garden City; Dr. Charlie Griffin, Manhattan; Dr. Michael Leeson, Lawrence; Becky Gray, Pittsburg; Cathy Ramshaw, Topeka; Pastor David Redmond, Concordia; Les Sperling, Lindsborg and Mark Potter, Cheney; Father Richard L. Daise, Ellis.