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October 11, 2022

Four Kansas community mental health centers awarded transformative grant funding

Access to behavioral health is a top concern for all Kansans. We all benefit when behavioral health services are better integrated into our health care system.

For more than 30 years, Kansas has ensured that each county received safety net mental health services provided by a community mental health center. Community mental health centers have faced increased demand for services coupled with workforce shortages.

To better meet demand and serve their communities, community mental health centers will transition to an integrated care approach. The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model was designed so that all individuals can access coordinated comprehensive behavioral health care, such as outpatient mental health and substance use services. CCBHCs also provide care coordination to help patients navigate the health care and social services systems. CCBHCs must provide services regardless of where patients live or their ability to pay.

Transforming from a community mental health center to a CCBHC takes time, planning, and money. That takes capacity in the form of staff, resources, and knowledge. Rural communities typically have less capacity to apply for federal grants than metropolitan areas. Kansas is one of the 10 states with the most limited community capacity—it’s not surprising that Kansas ranks 47th in drawing down federal funds.

To create greater access to behavioral health services, especially in rural and under-served areas in Kansas, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (Health Fund) provided technical assistance to community mental health centers to bring back federal grant dollars to support their efforts as they seek CCBHC status.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently awarded CCBHC planning, development, and implementation (PDI) grants to 10 Kansas community health centers, including the following four that received technical assistance from the Health Fund:

  • Elizabeth Layton Center (ELC) in Ottawa was awarded $988,841 for its first year of CCBHC PDI funding. ELC serves Franklin and Miami counties in eastern Kansas. The SAMHSA grant will allow the ELC to expand access to comprehensive behavioral health services.
  • Iroquois Center for Human Development in Greensburg was awarded $1,000,000 for its first year of CCBHC PDI funding. Iroquois serves four rural counties in southwest Kansas. Its SAMHSA funding will allow it to increase access to comprehensive mental health services, especially among vulnerable farmers, the elderly, and veterans.
  • Southwest Guidance Center (SWGC) in Liberal was awarded $1,000,000 for its first year of CCBHC PDI funding. SWGC serves four frontier or rural southwest Kansas counties. Its SAMHSA grant will enable more individuals to successfully access comprehensive behavioral health services, especially within the Hispanic and veteran communities.
  • Spring River Mental Health & Wellness, Inc. in Riverton was awarded $955,314 for its first year of CCBHC PDI funding. Spring River serves Cherokee County in southeast Kansas. SAMHSA grant funding will support the expansion of Spring River’s services offered and the use of evidence-based practices.

Over the course of the four-year grants, we expect more than $15 million to return to Kansas to support these four community mental health centers as they transition to the CCBHC model.

“This is a big lift for community mental health centers to increase capacity to meet the new requirements,” said Kyle Kessler, Executive Director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas. “The grant funding awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides the support they need to recruit and retain staff, complete necessary trainings, and implement new programs. We are thankful to the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund for assisting our members to successfully apply for the grant funding; it is a huge win not only for the centers but most importantly for the communities they serve who will now have easier access to a broader array of behavioral health services.”

The Health Fund has been providing grants in Kansas for more than 35 years, but recently began providing technical assistance and grant writing support to partners working in our strategic areas of interest.  This new strategy leverages resources and expertise to bring crucial federal dollars back to Kansas to improve access to care and early childhood services while making the systems more financially sustainable.

Altogether, the Health’s Fund investments in technical assistance in 2021 and 2022 have helped bring back more than $30 million in federal funding to Kansas to improve access to health insurance and behavioral health services.

“The Health Fund is always working to leverage our resources most effectively to increase access to sustainable health care for Kansans,” said David Jordan, president and CEO of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. “These newest grants will strengthen access to behavioral health care and support an innovative delivery model—which represent two major priorities for the Health Fund. I’m proud we’re able to help bring critical funds back to Kansans to strengthen behavioral health care in rural communities and create a healthier future for all Kansans.”

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The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund is a statewide health foundation that facilitates conversation and action to improve the health and wholeness of Kansans—especially those in rural and under-served communities. Through funding programs and ideas, providing hands-on expertise, and convening influencers, the Health Fund advances innovative solutions to improve Kansans’ health for generations to come. Located in Hutchinson, Kansas, the Health Fund has provided more than $75 million in grants and program support since its inception in 1986.

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