Raising the issue of mental illness

EMPORIA (KSNT) – The death of actor Robin Williams has brought the issue of mental health to the forefront and in Emporia, the Flint Hills Medical Center has since reached out to the community it serves.

Kansas First News went to the health clinic to learn more about the growing demand for its services.

“My son has a chronic mental illness, so I remember when he was a kid, we would have gotten services sooner if this had been in place a lot sooner,” says Behavioral Health Consultant Evelyn Smith.

Now Emporia residents can rely on people like Smith to identify and treat behavioral mental health problems.

The need is staggering for one staff psychiatrist at the clinic.

“He is booked through October on Friday appointments now, so there’s a wait to get more in,” says Phillip Davis, CEO of Flint Hills Community Health.

That’s why at a time when mental health budgets are being cut across the nation, a new 500,000 dollar federal grant for the next two years will help the center meet the rising demand.

More money means the ability to serve more patients and current patients will have shorter wait times between treatments.

“We absolutely needed this grant, we would not have been able to expand these services to offer them without this grant money,” said Jacque Ambrose, executive assistant at Flint Hills Community Health.

The grant money will allow the center to hire more staff and treat 1,700 additional patients next year.

“We have organizations that come out and say this is real, this happens to real people, there are real services available for these folks to get help,” says Ambrose.

Health Center workers point to the death of Robin Williams as an example that mental health doesn’t have a specific demographic, it can impact anyone.

“Don’t put yourself out there and feel like you’re on an island where you don’t have any help with any of the things that you’re struggling with because we can help.”

Three other Kansas hospitals also received similar federal grants.


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