Kansas Community Mental Health Centers Providing Vital Behavioral Health Services During Public Health Emergency

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Topeka— Kansas’s Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) are encouraging Kansans feeling the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic to connect with their local mental health center via telephone or online. CMHCs are dedicated to ensuring Kansans continue to have access to behavioral health services.

CMHCS provide behavioral health services in all 105 counties, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They are the local Mental Health Authorities coordinating the delivery of publicly funded community-based mental health services and are required to provide services to all Kansans needing them, regardless of their ability to pay. This makes the community mental health system the safety net for Kansans with behavioral health needs.

In order to keep clients, their families, and CMHC staff safe; to comply with guidance provided by local, state, and federal public health officials; and to help contain the spread of COVID-19, CMHCs are adopting innovative service delivery measures, including the use of technology, such as telephone and televideo appointments, to meet the needs of their clients. Even though services may look different, they will continue.

“People in communities across our great state increasingly value mental health treatment and services as part of their health care service array,” said Kyle Kessler, Executive Director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas. “We also know that during times of crisis, the demand and need for services due to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and social isolation will continue to grow.”

Greg Hennen, Executive Director at Four County Mental Health Center and President of the Association added, “There is a high level of stress associated with this pandemic. During this time of social distancing and isolation, it is important to ensure we practice self-care, find ways to stay connected, and reach out when we need assistance.”

CMHCs will continue providing services in the safest and most effective ways possible not only throughout the COVID-19 crisis but also as the country recovers and moves forward. If you or someone you know is in need of services or treatment, please contact your local community mental health center.

According to Kessler, “CMHCs in Kansas do an extraordinary job of providing mental and behavioral health services to individuals in need. They are committed to serving their communities in the safest and most effective ways possible.”

To find your local CMHC, visit CMHC Map. A directory of Kansas CMHCs with contact information is located at http://www.acmhck.org/about-us/cmhc-directory/.

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.