People who are concerned about mental health on Saturday can attend a daylong community dialogue on the topic.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Unified Government Mayor Mark Holland are the hosts of the event running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Imperial Ballroom of the Muehlebach Tower of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.
It is one of 10 discussions nationwide spurred by President Barack Obama’s call this summer for a national conversation to increase people’s understanding and awareness of mental health concerns. Certainly budget cuts for mental health treatment programs will come up as well as the growing number of people with mental illness who are homeless.
Undoubtedly people will talk about the jails and prisons in this area and nationwide now serving as the country’s largest mental health treatment facilities because mentally ill people are being locked up instead of hospitalized. Speaking of mental health hospitals, respondents have to bring up the Fulton State Hospital in Missouri, which is one of the most dangerous places to work because it is underfunded, understaffed and ancient.
Sometime during the dialogue, people will voice concerns over repeated cases of mass shootings and how assailants with obvious mental health problems manage to get by background checks to get guns, a lot of ammunition, and then go out and kill and injure many others.
The mayors of the two cities should get an earful, and I hope they share what people have to say with Obama. The question afterward is this: What do the three of them plan to do with the information to improve mental health treatment in Kansas, Missouri and the United States? Or is this just another show for the TV cameras to give the public the impression that something is being done?