Advocates want lawmakers to rethink how mental health funding is spent

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Mental health advocates told lawmakers money needs to be spent differently.

Wednesday was Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Organizations, as well as people that have benefited from services, discussed how to best serve Kansans.

Advocates told lawmakers that state funding for mental health is critical, but how the money is spent is what makes the difference.

Supporters said expanding Medicaid would benefit the state, but the needs of Kansans go further than that.

“We need more funding for community resources, including prevention efforts with children and suicide,” said Mary Jones, president of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

Advocates asked for money to be spent on peer support and community mental health centers, instead of treatment in hospitals and locking people up in jails.

“Recovery is less expensive than disability, and making recovery happen is very simple,” said Corinna West, a mental health advocate.

Supporters said problems need to be addressed as soon as they arise, rather than letting mental health problems develop over time.

“We’re human, treat us like we’re human, and treat us like what we have going on with us is nothing bad,” Donavan Gardner said. Gardner helps people struggling with mental health problems through peer support. “It’s something that can be treated, and it’s something that you can help with,” Gardner said, eluding to legislators.

Supporters said that if people are feeling like they need help with their mental health, it’s always okay to reach out.

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