WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Its a problem Sedgwick County has been trying to fix for a while.

Commissioner Sarah Lopez said, "right now, our jail is the largest mental health care facility that we have in our community, which is not acceptable.”

This is not just a county issue. There are only two state mental health hospitals, in Larned and Osawatomie, as well as just a handful of private hospitals with mental health beds. The lack of mental health beds is a statewide problem.

Earlier this year the state allocated funding for a new 50 bed facility in Sedgwick county and just this week Governor Laura Kelly appointed a 14 person advisory panel to guide its development.

“Our goal is to look at yes, what is the best placement for these beds. What's the best incorporation of these beds into the new array of community mental health services already available," explained CEO of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas and panel member Amy Jones.

She says there is a second key component they are going to look at as part of the panel, staffing this hospital.

“When you add capacity in a, in a system, you have to be really mindful of how are we going to get workforce in there to fulfill the need of this new project and not pull away from the the workforce that we already need to support people in the community" said Jones.

While the hospital will be a state facility, it is part of a larger puzzle for Sedgwick County officials.

It, along with building a new Comcare crisis center, the WSU-KU biomedical campus planned for downtown, and the social services hub the city is working on creates a collaborative system that county officials are saying could be a massive increase in mental health resources.

"We think that we'll be able to address them better through all of this enhancement that we've got coming on the horizon" Sedgwick County Deputy Manager Tim Kaufman told KAKE.

The panel will give two reports, one in January 2024 and one in June 2024.