Johnson County Mental Health Center receives more than $900,000 in federal funds to support inmates reentering society

Johnson County Mental Health

More than $900,000 in funding contained in a $2.3 trillion spending package passed by Congress last year will go towards Johnson County Mental Health Center's efforts to support incarcerated individuals as they reenter society. Above, the Shawnee offices of the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

Johnson County Mental Health Center has received more than $900,000 in federal grant funding to support the organization’s efforts to serve incarcerated people as they prepare to reenter society.

In total, the community health center received $927,512 for the Reentry Project, which is intended to offer quality mental health care for inmates leaving detention.

Rep. Sharice Davids of the Third District of Kansas this week announced the grant funding for Johnson County Mental Health Center, as well as a grant of more than $4.7 million for the Wyandot Center for Community Behavioral Healthcare to provide trauma-informed treatment in Wyandotte County schools.

The announcement comes during National Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Davids’ office reported that the grants will be used to help community health centers in the Third District recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as restore services for individuals with mental health issues.

Local mental health groups have reported an increased demand for mental health services over the past year, which has led to a shortage of services and burnout in health professionals.

“This grant will not only change the lives of the hundreds of individuals directly served by the Reentry Program, but also the lives of these individuals’ families, friends and neighbors,” said Tim DeWeese, director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center. File photo.

Tim DeWeese, director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center, said his team is “excited for the new doors” the federal grant opens for the organization to serve the community.

“We know that getting incarcerated individuals the mental health support they need is critical for their long-term wellness and success outside of the justice system,” DeWeese said. “This grant will not only change the lives of the hundreds of individuals directly served by the Reentry Program, but also the lives of these individuals’ families, friends and neighbors. There are also systemic benefits, such as reducing loads in the criminal justice system caused by recidivism or in the health system caused by untreated mental health conditions.”

The funding was authorized by H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, a $2.3 trillion spending package passed by Congress in December and signed into law by former President Donald Trump.

Davids said in the announcement that she is glad to support the mission of the two organizations through the new funding.

“Mental health is health, a fact that has become even clearer as the pandemic has taken its toll on all aspects of our communities’ wellbeing,” Davids said in a statement. “These grants will help address the strain on our health care system and ensure Third District residents are healthy and safe.”

The Johnson County Department of Corrections has estimated that 27% of individuals in its jails have serious mental illness, which is higher than the estimated 5% of the general U.S. adult population, according to a press release.

The Johnson County Mental Health Center plans to serve 200 individuals through the grant-funded project.

The center will use the grant funding for the Reentry Project by providing additional staff and support to make sure incarcerated individuals have access to mental health services and resources when they reenter the community.

Part of the grant funding will also be used for mental health needs of Johnson County Mental Health Center staff.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Center for Mental Health Services award grants through their Community Mental Health Centers grant program.

The program enables community mental health centers to support and restore the delivery of clinical services that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and effectively address the needs of individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorders.