Youth and Young Adult Mental Health: Challenges & Opportunities in the Sunflower State

5 Min Read

Dec 20, 2022

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Both nationally and in Kansas, suicide rates for youth and young adults have risen over the last two decades. The rising suicide rates and mental health challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 have further emphasized the importance of understanding suicide and mental health among youth and young adults, and the options available for policymakers and local organizations.

On Wednesday, December 7, 2022, the Kansas Health Institute held an event to look at the current challenges and opportunities for meeting the growing mental health needs of youth and young adults in Kansas. It included two engaging panel discussions.


The first panel, Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Youth & Young Adults at the Local Level, focused on the organizations and institutions in our local communities working to meet the needs of youth and young adults.

The panel, which was moderated by  Wyatt J. Beckman, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., Senior Analyst at the Kansas Health Institute, included:

  • Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Ed.D., M.Div., Superintendent, Topeka Public Schools
  • Dan Duling, M.S.Ed., Vice President of Community Partnerships, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas
  • Richard Falcon, Program Supervisor, Compass Behavioral Health
  • Carlee Gilley, L.M.S.W., L.S.C.S.W., School-Based Clinical Level Therapist, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas


The second panel, Statewide Efforts and Strategies to Support Youth & Young Adult Mental Health, took a systems view of the behavioral health services and resources across our state.

The panel, which was moderated by Linda J. Sheppard, J.D., Senior Analyst & Strategy Team Leader at the Kansas Health Institute, included:

  • Chad Childs, M.S.F.T., Prevention Initiatives Manager, Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute
  • Madison Elliott, Public Policy & Advocacy Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Kansas
  • Monica Kurz, L.M.S.W., Vice President of Policy & Prevention, Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ
  • Laura Moore, Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Office of the Kansas Attorney General
  • Stephanie Rhinehart, L.M.S.W., Prevention Program Manager, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

Closing remarks were offered by Bailey Blair, LMSW. Baily is a clinical liaison with the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. She is also President of the Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition.

If you would like to talk to one of our panelists, contact us.

View a recording of the session below.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988.

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About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

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