Mental health provider shortage in rural Kansas

Posted: Updated:

A shortage of mental health providers in rural Kansas is concerning to some people. There are less than 5 psychiatrists serving adults in all of western Kansas and children with severe mental health needs have to travel hundreds of miles. 

The Iroquois Center in Greensburg is hoping to bring awareness to the issue. The outpatient mental health center serves four counties in western Kansas. But some patients say, that part of the state deserves even more. 

"There is a big cry out here in the united states for mental health providers and in rural areas, it is very necessary. From farmers on down," says Louise VanDyke, patient at Iroquois Center.

Once a month two psychiatrists visit the center. The rest of the care comes from a television screen. "So we become dependent upon tele-psychiatry and using equipment we have here and accessing psychiatry that's elsewhere," says Ric Dalke, Iroquois Center Executive Director.  

Local schools, hospitals and even the county attorney see the need. Partnerships are formed, offering funding and more accessibility. "We want to insure everyone in our counties receive the best treatment available," says Stephanie Salisbury, Iroquois Center Clinical Director.

People are asking why and some think they might have the answers. "These are amazing communities, but if you're not used to living 60 miles from a Wal-Mart, it can be really difficult for you to want to move into areas like this," says Salisburg. 

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to