Police, judges, mental health case managers, and court officers have long been caught in a cycle of trying to help people with mental health problems versus being forced to impose sentences on them. This public issue has been steamrolling along now for quite some time, and the last decade or so has really brought it to public attention. Everywhere we look, we see increasing gun violence in schools and on our streets.
In many of these cases that we see in the news on a weekly basis, if not more, the individuals in question have had mental illnesses and were not being treated properly. The story has almost always been the same, only the faces have changed. In nearly each case, society had turned their backs on the people in question and the systems in place have failed. Regardless of whether they were victims or perpetrators of crimes, they were left with few alternatives but jail, institutionalization, or homelessness. Many caved into their mental illnesses, and gave into something that was beyond their ability to fight.
Mental Health Treatment – A new Approach
One place that hopes to change this all-too-common scene is in Kansas City, Missouri. In an effort to make strides in treatment, they just opened The Kansas City Triage and Assessment Center on 2600 E. 12th St. The facility held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this past Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. It was attended by many local officials, policeman, and hospital personnel.
The center is designed to offer people an option besides jail, ER’s, or psychiatric wards. It features eight beds for stabilizing people in mental health crises, and eight beds for people in alcoholic distress. It is one more place that police officers and medical teams can bring people.
Individuals who are brought there will be allowed to stay up to 23 hours.
Mental Health Treatment – issues with funding
The biggest obstacle taxpayers and cities face when it comes to mental health treatment, is funding. Everything costs money. Even the cheapest of facilities need proper staff, food, and other medical necessities. As a recurring theme, many cities and states have slashed funding for mental health across the board. Therefore, everyone wants people to get the right treatment, but no one wants to pay for it.
How did they fund the new center then? According to The Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Assessment and Triage Center received $20 million in funding from various agencies in the form of $2 million a year for the next 10 years. Also, 9 area hospitals are backing the new center to add $1 million annually so the center’s operating budget can be met. They stated that the 9 hospitals helping are: Research Medical Center, Research Psychiatric Center, Truman Medical Centers, three hospitals in the Saint Luke’s Health System, St. Joseph Medical Center, Liberty Hospital and North Kansas City Hospital.
Missouri State Rep Bonnaye Mims and KC Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner were both heavily in support of the center. Each politician had a tragic mental-illness story of their own to share. Through their own involvement in the community, they realized that there was much they could do to aid those impacted by mental health problems. Each one knew that they needed to make forward progress as soon as possible to prevent the crisis from worsening.
The Kansas City Star