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Bert Nash, O’Connell Children’s Shelter teaming up to offer new supports for young people in Douglas County

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Two Douglas County nonprofits have announced a partnership aimed at improving mental health care for children, young people and their families.

Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and O’Connell Children’s Shelter are coming together to form a new youth crisis continuum of care, according to a Tuesday announcement.

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Jeff Burkhead, a spokesperson for Bert Nash, said a “continuum of care” refers to “a seamless and coordinated system of healthcare services that are provided to individuals across a spectrum of needs and settings, ensuring a smooth progression of care from prevention and early intervention to acute and chronic care, rehabilitation, and ultimately, long-term support.”

“This concept emphasizes the integration and collaboration of various healthcare providers, organizations, and services to deliver comprehensive and patient-centered care throughout the entirety of an individual’s health journey,” Burkhead said via email. “The goal of a continuum of care is to enhance the quality of care, promote continuity, and optimize outcomes by addressing diverse healthcare needs at different stages of an individual’s life or health condition.”

This youth crisis CoC will integrate Bert Nash’s mobile response team, the Treatment and Recovery Center of Douglas County, and eventually, a new youth recovery center that is planned for 3500 Clinton Place, according to the announcement.

Patrick Schmitz, CEO of Bert Nash, said in the announcement that “This partnership is a belief that we are better together.”

“Along with O’Connell Children’s Shelter, we are developing a youth crisis system that will provide immediate support, resources and intervention for youth experiencing crisis situations,” he said. “Both agencies will work together to provide community-based, wrap-around services for youth and their families.”

Gina Meier-Hummel, executive director of O’Connell Children’s Shelter, said in the announcement that “We are looking forward to expanding the continuum of services we offer and can’t think of a more important issue to address for our community’s children, youth, and families.”

The organizations have about 120 years combined experience in the community, according to the announcement. They recently received a Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services grant for $253,561 to go toward hiring a director and program manager for the CoC.

“The hope is to have this new system of care and facility fully operational in early 2025,” according to the announcement.

Bert Nash announced in September that it also received a grant to implement a substance use treatment program for people ages 14 to 21. Read more about that at this link.

Get mental health help in Lawrence

These resources are available 24/7 if you or someone you know needs immediate mental health help:

• Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center: 785-843-9192
• Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ (formerly Headquarters): 785-841-2345
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 988; veterans, press 1
• SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator and Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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