Mayor James and Mayor Holland host Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, for bi-state mental health dialogue

September 17, 2013 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
This event is part of a national conversation on mental health initiated this summer by President Obama

Mayor Sly James, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Mayor Mark Holland, of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, announce that Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, will address the bi-state community dialogue on mental health this Saturday, September 21st at 9:15 a.m.  The local dialogue is the community’s response to President Obama’s call for Americans to hold a national conversation aimed at increasing the understanding of mental health.

During the day-long event, participants will discuss effective ways to recognize, prevent and treat mental and behavioral health problems, especially in young people. The conversation will address the benefits of early identification and treatment, increased public awareness, and the importance of mental and emotional health in the positive development of children. By the end of the meeting, participants will have reached agreement on ways to address mental health more effectively in the region, especially for young people, and on broad action steps to move towards a regional plan to support and enhance local mental health efforts.

The Mayors have worked with Consensus, a local nonprofit dedicated to weaving together public policy and community input, to plan and promote the dialogue. The local initiative is funded by a broad spectrum of public and private entities including  Bank of America, Cerner, Community Network for Behavioral Healthcare, Inc, H&R Block Foundation, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Hall Family Foundation, Jackson County Community Mental Health Fund, New Directions Behavioral Health, Prime Health Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation, Research Psychiatric Center, Saint Luke’s Foundation, Sprint Foundation, Sosland Foundation, Truman Medical Center, and United Way of Greater Kansas City.

“It’s an honor to work with Mayor Holland to meet the President’s challenge regarding mental health in our community,” said Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James. “The fact that we will be welcoming the expertise of Secretary Sebelius on Saturday adds another dimension to this event and shows how important the region’s response is to the national dialogue.”

“We are excited that once again, our region is coming together to address an important issue that impacts our community and affects all of our families at some level.” said Kansas City, Kansas Mayor/CEO Mark Holland. “We are honored that Secretary Sebelius will be able to join us for the community dialogue and I’m confident we will emerge with fresh ideas to address mental health concerns.”

According to a national study, untreated serious mental illness alone costs the Kansas City region $624 million a year. About one in every ten adults in the region, or 224,593 adults, has a serious mental illness. This includes major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. About 40 percent of those cases are untreated. Of the $624 million annual cost, 87.5 percent are in the form of indirect costs to employers and individual, such as higher unemployment and lost productive time at work. Untreated serious mental illness is associated with an estimated 67 suicides in this region, more than 11,000 incarcerations and more than 15,000 unemployed adults.

Three hundred residents will engage in Saturday’s dialogue, forty percent of which will be individuals who are currently involved in the mental health system, including consumers, family members and service providers. The other 60 percent will be composed of interested citizens. Residents from the six-county metro area, including Jackson, Clay, Platte and Ray in Missouri, and Johnson and Wyandotte in Kansas, are eligible to attend. In particular, the organizers are asking young people ages 14-24 to attend and make their voices heard. Participants will discuss effective ways to recognize, prevent and treat mental and behavioral health problems, especially in young people.  The public is encouraged to register for the dialogue online at  Registration is currently open for this free event and will remain open until 5pm tomorrow. The organizers will provide $25 to anyone who requests it.


Contact: Joni Wickham: 816-513-6582 or cell: 816-572-2152