Victory for Kansas Residents of Mental Health Nursing Facilities

DRC & Other Disability Advocates Reach Agreement with State of Kansas to Reform Services for People Living in Mental Health Nursing Facilities

The Disability Rights Center of Kansas (DRC) brought together and helped lead a coalition of several non-profit legal advocacy agencies in their collective effort to prevent Kansans with mental health issues from languishing in private mental health institutions, called Nursing Facilities for Mental Health (NFMH) (see press release here). Today, this coalition reached an agreement with the State of Kansas regarding these NFMH institutions. This agreement is a true game changer. It will help ensure Kansans with mental health needs have access to the proper mental health services and supports to get out of NFMHs, as well as to help avoid these institutional placements altogether.    

Press release

Agreement

For decades, far too many Kansans with mental health disabilities have been stuck in these NFMHs, many with little help or hope to transition to the community.  Even NFMH residents with the proper family supports found it anywhere from mind-numbingly difficult to nearly impossible to transition out of these institutions.  The U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking 1999 Olmstead decision found that unnecessary institutionalization is illegal discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

DRC brought to light the seriousness of the troubling conditions in these NFMHs and how Kansans were unnecessarily institutionalized in its May 2019 investigative report “Stuck in Institutions: The Crisis of Mental Health Supports and Services." The DRC report laid out in great detail how Kansans were getting stuck in these institutions and how funding for numerous mental health services and supports at the community level were woefully inadequate in Kansas.  The report found that nearly 70% of residents wanted to transition out of the NFMH so they can live in the community, yet only 9% said the NFMH had provided them a plan to do so. DRC’s Investigative report started the systems change necessary to bring about this big win. This report exposed the rights violations in these NFMHs. 

With this agreement a new day is dawning for individuals with mental health needs in Kansas.  Numerous critical mental health service enhancements, accountability mechanisms and required outcomes are detailed in the agreement.

The agreement details numerous benchmarks, actions, and definitive outcomes to be achieved over the next several years. The agreement greatly expands the mental health services and supports at the community level needed to create an effective path to community integration for NFMH residents.  These accountability mechanisms in the agreement, as well as the expanded mental health services and supports, will also help Kansans avoid these institutions whenever possible.        

“This agreement recognizes the civil rights of all NFMH residents to live in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs,” said DRC’s Legal Director Lane Williams. “Expanding community supports and services will begin to offer real choices to residents seeking to avoid institutionalization. We appreciate KDADS Secretary Howard, KDHE Secretary Norman, and their staff working with us to reach this agreement, and we look forward to its implementation.”

DRC Can Help

Any person who becomes either voluntarily or involuntarily involved with the mental health treatment system in Kansas has certain legal rights.  The sources of those rights may be state or federal laws or regulations, decisions by state or federal courts, or accreditation requirements. Check out our booklet "The Rights of Persons with Mental Illness" to learn more. 

Victory for Kansas Residents of Mental Health Nursing Facilities