Capitol Comments Articles
Mental Health Modernization Task Force Meets

Mental Health (Oct. 28, 2021) – Today, the full Special Committee on Kansas Mental Health Modernization and Reform met. The committee heard concerns expressed by Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) related to racial history taught to students throughout Kansas. The committee also heard from Craig Neuenswander, deputy commissioner from the Kansas Department of Education, and three districts about successful mental health programs. Appearing before the committee to discuss program models were:

  • Angie Salava, Olathe Public Schools
  • Ron Wilson, Hays
  • Dr. Mark Schmidt, Blue Valley.

The committee also received updates from the subcommittees they formed, including one on telehealth. The telehealth subcommittee reported on quality assurance, reimbursement codes, crisis services for telehealth, originating and distance sites and the child welfare system. In addition, the subcommittee stated the topic of payment parity in telehealth will be discussed at the Nov. 15 meeting.

The committee heard a presentation from Kansas Health Institute staff on urban and rural suicide rates, as well as federal and state efforts aimed at prevention, including the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline. In addition, the committee received feedback from the following conferees on challenges and opportunities in addressing suicide prevention:

  • Andrew Brown, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services
  • Monica Kurz, KS Suicide Prevention Resource Center Headquarters
  • Dr. Nicole Klaus, Professor, University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • Rennie Shuler-McKinney, Advent Health on behalf of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition
  • Reverend David Fulton, Robert J. Dole Veterans Hospital

The committee then held a roundtable discussion on suicide prevention efforts that included several specialists and private citizens from around the state. The committee also received presentations on the specialty courts' approaches and trauma-informed care.

The next meetings are scheduled for Nov. 17-18, Dec. 10 and Dec. 15-16.