Outstanding Public Official Award Presented to Representative Dan Hawkins
Kansas State Representative Dan Hawkins was presented with the Outstanding Public Official Award for his support of the public mental health system in Kansas. The award was presented to Representative Hawkins by the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, Inc., at its 37h Annual Conference for Behavioral Health in Manhattan, Kansas.
Representative Hawkins, from Wichita, represents the 100th House District. He was elected to his first term in November 2012 and re-elected in 2014. He has served on the House Health and Human Services, Insurance and Financial Institutions, and Appropriations Committees. As Chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, he led the passage of legislation to allow for deemed status of Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) and to reduce the exposure of CMHCs to lawsuits. As Chairman of the Bob Bethel Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight, he called for a hearing on community mental health treatment and led a discussion on the state mental health hospitals.
“Representative Hawkins was instrumental in starting a dialogue specific to mental health during the last legislative session which is continuing today,” remarked David Elsbury, CEO of KANZA Mental Health and Guidance Center, and President of the Association. Elsbury will join Kyle Kessler, the Association Executive Director, in presenting the award to Representative Hawkins at the Annual Conference of the Association on September 15, 2016. “I am proud to present this award to Representative Hawkins, and he certainly deserves to be recognized for his leadership in making good policy in mental health,” said Elsbury.
“Dan is a strong supporter of mental healthcare and treatment. As a leading voice in the statehouse on health care, his support came at a crucial time for our system,” said Kyle Kessler. “He understands the importance of mental health care and treatment, and has exhibited great leadership both in the committees he has chaired and on the House floor in developing sound health care policy.”
Representative Hawkins said, “Mental healthcare and treatment are at the intersection of so many of our issues as a state right now. The question is really not about, ‘Where is mental health?’ It is really about, ‘Where isn’t it?’ Whether we are talking about emergency room services at local hospitals, interaction with law enforcement, or in our schools or the child welfare system, strong community mental health programs and a commitment to community mental health have got to be a priority for our state.” He further stated, “I understand that without adequate funding, Kansans who need mental health treatment may end up in higher cost levels of care that may be unnecessary like state psychiatric hospitals or in county jails or state prisons.”
The Association represents all 26 Licensed Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) in Kansas that provide home and community-based, as well as outpatient mental health services in all 105 counties in Kansas, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. In Kansas, CMHCs are the local mental health authorities coordinating the delivery of publicly funded community-based mental health services. The CMHC System is state and county funded and locally administered. Consequently, service delivery decisions are made at the community level, closest to the residents that require mental health treatment. Each CMHC has a defined geographical service area. With a collective staff of over 4,000 professionals, the CMHCs provide services to Kansans of all ages with a diverse range of presenting problems. Together, this system of 26 licensed CMHCs forms the backbone of the total mental health system in Kansas, serving more than 130,000 Kansans each year.
Community Mental Health Centers provide services to all Kansans needing it, regardless of economic level, age or type of illness. For more information about the Community Mental Health Centers in Kansas, visit our web site at www.acmhck.org or call (785) 234-4773.