The gap that has existed between people who are incarcerated and mental-health services is starting to close in central Kansas.
The Center for Counseling & Consultation, 5815 Broadway, applied for and received a state grant that is funding the new Jail Program in the non-profit agency’s four-county service area – Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services awarded the $316,666 grant last spring and the program has already served 114 people, said Shionta Gray, Community Support Services director at The Center.
“The funding is being used for staff to support incarcerated individuals,” Gray said. “The individuals normally don’t have insurance or private funds to pay for services that can address their underlying issues.
“These issues contribute to reasons for incarceration such as mental-health problems and/or substance use,” she explained. “We want to reduce recidivism and stop the revolving door. The grant has made it possible for us to tackle these issues. We are more than grateful.”
Recent statistics indicate that approximately 35 percent of Barton County Jail inmates have some type of mental-health issue. This was determined by a screening tool used at the facility.
“By opening a dialogue with jail personnel and those who are incarcerated, we are supporting people who want to obtain mental-health services such as case management, therapy and medication,” Gray noted. “We also help them with resources such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing and employment when they are released from jail.”
The Center is gathering data to help track the outcomes “to ensure we achieve the overall goals of the grant, which are to allow easy access to services and reduce recidivism,” Gray added.
The Center’s staff members recommend to people being released from jail to follow-up on concerns about mental health. They help schedule follow-up services with the provider of the individual’s choice.
“We also reach out periodically to determine if other resources are needed,” Gray said. “We are here to help them find resources right here in our community.”
The Center’s services include therapy, medication management, and case management for young people and adults.
“Our well-balanced mix of services can support people in recovery from substance-use disorder, while promoting stability and addressing employment and housing,” Gray noted. “Recidivism may be reduced, while we de-stigmatize mental-health problems and improve quality of life in our community.”
The Jail Program works in collaboration with the local Stepping Up Initiative, which is a framework that helps counties reduce the over-incarceration of people with mental illness. The Center is coordinating with jail personnel in Barton, Rice and Pawnee counties; Stafford doesn’t have a jail.
“This has been a learning experience for everyone and we have received positive feedback about the jail liaison,” Gray said. “We have heard it is going well with inmates and jail staff.”
In addition to Gray, staff members involved are: Tracie Haselhorst, crisis coordinator; Brenda Slagle, jail liaison; Scot Yarnell, nurse practitioner and medication-assisted treatment provider; and Marci Klug, registered nurse. Kathy Hines is the jail’s nurse.
Other clinicians and support staff will be added as needed.
The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.