Communities discussing ways to improve mental health - KCTV5 News

Communities discussing ways to improve mental health

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Kansas City mayors on both sides of the state line hosted nearly 500 people and Secretary of Human Health and Services Kathleen Sebelius for a bi-state mental health summit.

"It's a dialogue, a chance for our community to come together and address this critical issue that affects us all," said Janine Hron of Creating Community Solutions.

People from all walks of life came to the downtown Marriott to talk mental health.

"This is an opportunity for ER nurses, leaders, anyone who touches this together, to talk about what works and what doesn't work and what can we do better," Hron said.

Sebelius started the conversation by pointing to this week's mass shooting in Washington, DC.

"Once again, this week we are compelled by the tragedy of the situation that happened in Washington, DC," she said. "Again, brings up some issues around mental illness. The shooting in the Navy Yard has once again galvanized some national attention."

Nine other cities across America will hold similar conferences to discuss ways to better treat mental illness.

"Part of what we're talking about here and around the country is overcoming the negative attitudes and misunderstandings about mental illness and substance abuse challenges," Sebelius said.

Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James said early recognition can prevent serious problems later.

"One of the reasons we need quality early childhood education programs is because that is an early opportunity to identify and help to correct and solve issues that arrive in young peoples live," he said.

Kansas City, KS, Mayor Mark Holland added mental health is a big challenge for Wyandotte County law enforcement.

"When 35 percent of inmates in the Wyandotte County jail right now have mental health needs that are untreated, we have decided as a society to warehouse people rather than treat people. Someone somewhere needs to say that's unacceptable," Holland said.

You can follow the national conversation on Twitter using #mentalhealthmatters.

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