City Council approves Mental Health Task Force recommendations

The Overland Park City Council unanimously approved recommendations that will assist the community in addressing future mental health needs.

Mental Health Task Force Chair and Council Member Chris Newlin presented the task force’s recommendations to the City Council this month, after working with the committee for more than a year to learn about existing resources and make suggestions for improvement.

Members of the task force included volunteers who are mental health professionals from Johnson County and the metropolitan area, representatives from the Overland Park business community and nonprofit organizations, and residents with mental health interests.

The Mental Health Task Force’s recommendations included:

  • Crisis center: Encouraging the City to work with nearby communities to evaluate and identify potential modifications to enhance crisis intervention services. The task force suggests outcomes of further research and action may include adding involuntary services, reducing the waitlist at the state’s mental health facility, and developing crisis intervention services for children and teens in Johnson County.
  • Substance use: Continuing to support substance use education, prevention and intervention through an annual budget allocation of special alcohol funds to the Drug and Alcoholism Council of Johnson County.
  • Mental health diversion program: Recommending the Municipal Court make changes to the mental health diversion program to make services more accessible, and providing trauma-informed care training for Municipal Court staff.
  • Website: Recommending making updates to the City’s and County’s websites to include more information and resources, and provide additional communication information to the City’s Crisis Intervention Team.
  • Crisis intervention team: Recommending establishing a special unit within the Overland Park Police Department to include 11 plainclothes CIT coordinators and seven mental health co-responders to provide continuous CIT coverages and 24/7 response for mental health-related emergency calls for service.
  • Victim advocates: Recommending the City fund a full-time victim specialist position in the Police Department and fund additional victim advocate positions.
  • Trauma-informed care: Recommending the City expand trauma-informed care training for public safety and other staff who have regular contact with the public.
  • Mental health resources for first responders: Recommending the City to enhance the quality and increase the quantity of mental health support services for first responders.
  • Standing Mental Health committee: Recommending the City establish a standing mental health committee to continually evaluate, educate and advise the City on current mental health issues.

You can see the entire list of recommendations and watch the presentation to the City Council on the agenda portal.

Next steps for the recommendations involve City staff working to implement recommendations, which may involve additional research, collaboration with community partners and additional funding for mental health programs and services.

Stay up to date with the recommendations and implementation on the Mental Health Task Force webpage.