Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center has received a $35,000 grant for suicide prevention.
The hospital is one of 15 organizations that split a total of $525,000 in Kansas Community Suicide Prevention grants. The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services awarded the funds to develop community-specific strategies to prevent suicide among at-risk groups.
Anna Methvin, NMRMC Foundation director, said she was pleasantly surprised and excited to receive the grant. She wrote the application for the maximum amount of $30,000, she said. The 15 organizations all received the same amount.
The hospital and foundation will be working with 20 organizations in the Neosho County Health Coalition, including Southeast Kansas Mental Health and its Assertive Community Treatment team.
ACT is an evidence-based practice designed to provide comprehensive treatment and support services to individuals who are diagnosed with a serious mental illness and need a higher level of care, Methvin said.
The projects will kick off in April with a virtual meeting of all award recipients.
The statewide prevention efforts are strengthened by the allocation of $1.5 million in state general funds to the KDADS Behavioral Health Services Commission in fiscal year 2023.
Other communities receiving funds include Wichita, Johnson County, Manhattan, Clay Center, Lawrence, Garden City, Paola, Seneca, Belleville and Arkansas City.
Grantees will be required to create a plan that includes conducting a community assessment, building suicide prevention infrastructure, addressing cultural competency, and ensuring suicide prevention efforts are evidence-based. Grantees will receive continued support from KDADS and the Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Doug Wright, chief operating officer at Southeast Kansas Mental Health, said the promotion and prevention staff will ramp up efforts for presentations and to bring in speakers. The team uses the QPR program to Question, Persuade and Refer.
Suicide and mental health issue rates have grown astronomically in southeast Kansas, Wright said, with the region having one of the highest rates in the state. About 20 percent of the population will have mental health issues at some point in their lives.
In 2022 in the six-county area, 904 women and 544 men visited emergency rooms for mental health issues.
“That’s a pretty significant number,” Wright said.
SEK Mental Health covers Linn, Bourbon, Neosho, Allen, Woodson and Anderson counties.
During 2022, Neosho County had 380 emergency room visits for mental health issues.
“It’s a high group,” Wright said.
Over the service area, about 30 to 40 people went to the emergency room each month with suicidal thoughts.
“Everybody is really part of the solution,” Wright said.
“Improving mental health in every community is essential to creating a healthy, living Kansas,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “By investing in organizations that directly work with Kansans in crisis, we are furthering our mission to prevent suicide and ensure every Kansan can access the mental health services he or she needs.”
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