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A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of an Olathe, Kansas, woman who was shot and killed by police in her boyfriend's home last August.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Read her lips

A month away from becoming the next governor of Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly says she’s deep into budget preparation.

Although she’s been as steeped in the workings of state government as any Kansas wonk during her 14 years in the state Senate, the Topekan says agencies find themselves in worse repair than she imagined.

“The problems are broad,” she said, “and they’re deep.”

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Waiting for psych beds

The number of residential psychiatric wards in Kansas has dropped to 8 today from 17 in 2011 and now about a third as many beds are available for overnight care.

One factor has been a limit on the number of days the state’s privately managed Medicaid programs will authorize for a stay in one of the treatment centers.

So now some 140 children simply wait to get intense treatment for a range of potentially critical mental health problems.

A man with dark hair and a goatee wearing headphones and a charcoal jacket sits behind a microphone in a radio studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Vince Ortega has a long history working with COMBAT and the Kansas City Police Department.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

More beds or more services

Legislators heard Wednesday that Kansas either needs to improve a range of services for the mentally ill or to be prepared to more than double the number of psychiatric beds available. Or both.

Today, the state offers 258 slots in mental health hospitals. Madeline Fox reports that’s down from more than 1,000 beds in 1990. A report from January says the state needs 300 more.

Jacob Joslyn / For KCUR 89.3

Of all the freedoms Anthony Flanagan lost during his eight years under state care, the right to vote was among the toughest.

Flanagan, a quadriplegic who was deemed unable to care for himself because of psychiatric issues, lived under a legal guardianship by the state of Missouri from 2008 to 2016. Often seen as protective of people incapacitated by mental illness or developmental disabilities, guardianship can also strip people of many rights the rest of us enjoy, including the right to vote.

Jason Kander announced Tuesday that he is dropping out of the Kansas City mayoral race, citing his battle with depression and symptoms of PTSD.
Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

Jason Kander’s decision to drop out of the Kansas City mayoral race is bringing more attention to post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health issues faced by veterans.

Kander is an Army veteran who served a four-month tour in Afghanistan 11 years ago. He said in a statement that his time in the military continues to affect him and has led to battles with depression and symptoms of PTSD.  

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Jason Kander's withdrawal from the Kansas City mayor's race illustrates the long-term effects of PTSD.

As political watchers in Kansas City deal with the fact that the leading candidate in next year's race to replace Sly James is out, we sat down with a veteran and a counselor to discuss the challenges of living with and managing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, has made a few changes after receiving a letter from U.S. representatives from Missouri and Kansas that detailed veterans' concerns about the quality of care.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A proposal aimed at reducing panhandling on city streets has hit a nerve in Kansas City, Missouri, so city officials are taking a step back and plan to rework it. 

On Thursday, more than 70 people packed a room at City Hall to testify both in support and against the measure. Proponents argue panhandling has gotten out of control in their neighborhoods, while opponents say the measure would punish homeless people.  

CC -- Bigstock

By working with neighboring school districts and community health partners, Olathe Superintendent John Allison thinks Johnson County might actually be able to change the conversation on teen suicide.

“Each of the Johnson County school districts has taken a little different approach,” Allison says. “I think that’s been key to our conversation that started last spring, is to learn from each other to try to see what’s worked and at the same time to blend our limited resources to best support each other.”

Johnson County Poised To Expand Mental Health Services

Jul 31, 2018
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County’s proposed $1.1 billion budget for 2019 includes a $3 million increase in spending on mental health services.

The money would fund six additional workers at the Johnson County Mental Health Center, including three new case managers who would work with both children and adults.

At a hearing Monday night, the only public input consisted of two suggestions to further lower the tax rate. The board is already planning to lower the mill levy rate in 2019 because property values have increased.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

It's okay not to be okay. That's the essential message of a new book for young adult readers by Kansas City author Adib Khorram.

Darius The Great is Not Okay follows a boy with an Iranian mom and teutonic, white-guy dad through the cruelty and tenderness of adolescence. Darius lives in Portland. He struggles with depression. He's bullied at school, and he's unsure of his place at home. He doesn't speak Farsi, like his mom and sister, and he's convinced he's a disappointment to his dad. His only comforts come from hot tea and Star Trek

A man wearing headphones sits behind a studio microphone.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Witness says suspect killed in Kansas City Police Department shooting "was a very troubled individual."

In a re-broadcast of a segment that aired June 19, 2018, we discussed the Kansas City, Missouri, police shooting death of a sword-wielding woman and the role mental illness may have played in the encounter. We examined when deadly force by law enforcement is warranted. 

Segment 1: New York fashion icon kept Kansas City roots.

The death of fashion designer Kate Spade touched a nerve here locally. We speak with a local reporter who met Spade and remembers her as being very much Kansas Citian.

Segment 2, beginning at 15:01: Research on suicide prevention is progressing.

2017 KANSAS AND MISSOURI CONSUMER HEALTH ACCESS SURVEY

A quarter of Kansas working-age adults and a third of the state’s children live in households dealing with medical debt.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new report commissioned by five Kansas and Missouri health foundations, believed to be the largest survey to date of health consumers in the two states.

In Kansas, about 2,600 adults and minors were included. The survey answers point to problems with access to dental and mental health care, among other services.

Michael Kinard / Knight Foundation

Segment 1: The former mayor of Wichita discusses the changes he'd make as govenor.

Democrat Carl Brewer served as the first African-American mayor of Wichita from 2007 to 2015. Now he's campaining to be the first African-American governor of Kansas. Today, he joined us for a conversation about the education budget, restructuring taxes and expanding Medicaid.

Sophia Tulp / KCUR 89.3

Mental health advocates are urging parents to watch for suicide warning signs as school lets out for summer.

“The first thing that we have to do is be okay and comfortable with even saying the word suicide,” said Kevin McGuire, co-chair of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition told the crowd gathered Tuesday for a panel discussion on mental health.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

  Segment 1: Missouri State Auditor on what she counts as legislative victories in this year's regular session.

This past legislative session, Missouri lawmakers passed a law that strengthens protections for so-called "whistleblowers." Today, the Missouri state auditor told us why she pushed for this legislation, and what the implications are for state workers. We also learned why Gov. Eric Greitens' move to use taxpayer dollars to pay for private attorneys has her concerned.  

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Segment 1: As the legislative season ends in Kansas, Democrats look ahead to midterm elections.

While state lawmakers shift their focus from drafting laws to campaigning, we checked in with two Democratic Party leaders to get a sense for how they'll gauge success at the ballots this August and November. We also reviewed some of the higher-profile bills that made it out of the legislature and onto the desk of Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer.

DanaWelsch / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: What is tax increment financing, and what are its drawbacks?

Tax increment financing districts, known as TIFs, have been a significant tool in Kansas City's development. But could they hurt communities as much as they helps them? In this first of a two-part series on the effects of TIFs, we took a look at opposition to the measures.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Segment 1: Douglas County voters are deciding on a contentious tax increase for jail and mental health services.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: The policies and techniques that are best at keeping drunk drivers off the road.

Last month, the Missouri House of Representatives voted for the second year in a row to cut the state funding for sobriety checkpoints to $1. The plan to catch drunk drivers and keep them off the street? Saturation patrols. Today, we talked about the effectiveness of these options. 

Heartland Alliance

It’s a challenge for people with severe mental illnesses to hold down a job or get the medical help they need. And that extends to when they try to alleviate hunger by getting on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The mere threat of launching debate on Medicaid expansion in Kansas has caged up a measure to suspend, rather than terminate, coverage for people while they’re locked up.

So legislators have created a policy work-around that doles out some extra money with direction to the state healthy agency to keep that coverage waiting for people when they get free.

LeAnn Mueller / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: High-energy ensemble re-imagines jazz music for a younger generation.

The combination of french fries and Champagne, casual and sophisticated, is an accurate representation of The Hot Sardines' lively music. (It's also the title of their latest album.) Today, we talked with members of the group about their younger audiences, their resident tap dancer and how they fill old tunes with new energy.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

Perfectionism, bullying, depression and social media are a few of the stressors teens constantly face in today's society. As the number of teen suicides in Kansas City reach record levels, we speak with school councilors and health experts to learn why rates are climbing in the metro and how to help prevent suicides.

But first, a discussion on undeveloped land in suburban areas. What happens when the desire to turn unused land into roads and schools collides with the desire to keep things natural?

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It took Sandra Allen a few years but when she finally read the 60-page autobiographical manuscript her paranoid schizophrenic uncle Bob sent her, she found a lens into his creative, curious and sometimes discombobulating mind. Today, Allen reflects on what her uncle's life reveals about mental health in America.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Today, when mentally ill Kansans land in a psychiatric hospital or behind bars, they lose Medicaid coverage. When they’re freed, the daunting chore of signing up for government health coverage starts from scratch.

Now, a push gaining steam among state lawmakers would merely pause that coverage, keeping care and critical medications ready for mental health patients when they get out.

Andrey Shkvarchuk / Flickr - CC

"There are a lot of dangers during the winter, especially when we're hitting temperatures around zero," says veterinarian Wayne Hunthausen. Today, the pet behavior expert answers our burning questions about cold weather pet safety and how to avoid dangers like antifreeze, frostbite and melting salt. Then, we learn about "gaslighting," particularly as it relates to politics and the current #MeToo movement.

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