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Report Says Kansas "Warehousing" People with Mental Health Issues

Rocky Nichols with the new report from the Disability Rights Center. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Disability rights advocates are arguing Kansas is “warehousing” hundreds of people with mental health issues in nursing homes.

The Disability Rights Center of Kansas said in a report that a lack of funding for community mental health services and other obstacles make it hard for the 600 people in the nursing facilities to transition out.  

The group surveyed nearly half the 600 residents of state-funded mental health facilities. Many have been living there for years. Most want to transition home and get treatment nearby.

Rocky Nichols, who heads the group, said the state could be violating laws requiring access to community based services.

“I think it’s just a lack of imagination has caused this to happen where people go to these places, they get stuck in these institutions,” he said.

Laura Howard, head of the state’s disability services agency, agrees with the goal of offering more community supports. Though she disagrees that the state is “warehousing” mental health patients or breaking the law.

“It’s not as easy as just saying ‘gosh, let’s just serve individuals in the community,’” she said. “It’s a little bit more complex than that.”
She said the state is working to offer more services like housing supports that can help people leave institutions.

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