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Study Finds Major Gaps In Behavioral Health Services


Kansas City, MO – People with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse issues can easily fall through the cracks in the health care and social services systems. That's according to a new study from the Mid America Regional Council, or MARC. KCUR's Elana Gordon reports.

The six month study included surveys, focus groups, and interviews with hundreds of people who use or work in the region's behavioral health care system. It concluded there's a good foundation of services in the area but that there are major shortages. In one survey of 90 providers, about three quarters reported that housing and residential hospitalization services were especially difficult for people to access.

Laura McCrary is with MARC, the organization that coordinated the independent study. She says gaps in those services make it hard for people with mental illnesses or substance abuse problems to recover.

McCrary: "One of the things that we know is that people really cannot get well if they do not have decent housing to live in."

McCrary says one of the study's main recommendations is that the region develop a coalition focused on improving housing access for people with special needs. Another recommendation calls for better coordination between physical health and behavioral health services.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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