Sedgwick Co. renews mental health emergency services for neighboring counties

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SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The largest mental health center in Kansas is offering services to neighboring counties.

Experts said one in four people suffer from some sort of mental illness. In south central Kansas, officials said the number of people seeking mental health services has risen. They said the number of partnerships to help individuals suffering from mental illness has risen too.

“People come in and call in that are suicidal, they come in because they need medicines, they come in just to get connected to resources when they don’t know where to go,” said COMCARE of Sedgwick County Executive Director Marilyn Cook.

In 2016, COMCARE, the largest mental health center in Kansas, fielded more than 70,000 crisis calls and helped more than 7,000 walk-in patients. Cook said she expects those numbers to continue to increase as COMCARE of Sedgwick County continues to serve people in Butler County and Sumner County.

“Since we are a large center, we do feel an obligation to help our neighboring community health centers when we can do that,” Cook said.

On Wednesday, the Sedgwick County Commission voted to renew its contract with Sumner County to provide its residents after hour mental health emergency services. Cook said the partnership helps to make sure people in Sumner County can get help 24-7.

“We try to connect them to the resources we feel they need and we alert the center the next day so they know we saw one of their patients,” she said.

Cook added the partnership between the two counties has helped the region save money. She also said it’s vital in helping people in crisis in real-time.

“Not only is it savings, not only does it make sense, but it’s a good service for people. It’s hard to wait in an emergency room. It’s hard to be hospitalized if that’s not the level of care you need, but the only thing available at the time,” Cook said.

The COMCARE Community Crisis Center provides 24-hour walk-in assessment and crisis intervention services, a 23-hour crisis observation unit, short-term crisis residential/stabilization services, sobering/detox services, mobile crisis services, 24-7 suicide prevention hotline and crisis peer support.

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