The Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center on Tuesday honored former Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden with the annual Pioneer Award for his efforts in the passage of the Mental Health Reform Act of 1990.
"In many places, the public mental health system today is just the Medicaid mental health system," Bert Nash Chief Executive David Johnson said. "Here in Kansas, we provide services wherever you live, to everybody regardless of ability to pay. The foundation of that was in Mental Health Reform that was an interest of his and was passed during his administration."
The award was given during Bert Nash's annual meeting at the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass. Rhonda Stubbs, a staff member at Bert Nash, received the Sandra Shaw Spirit Award.
Hayden, who served a term as governor from 1987 to 1991, now is secretary at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
He recalled a long and hard-fought struggle for mental health reform and said the changes reduced dependence on costly inpatient services and enabled agencies to serve more people in their homes and communities.
"I'm pleased to see that over the years since implementation, the system of care has evolved and features a much wider range of services," he said.
Hayden said funding remains a critical issue today and more people need to speak out about the importance of mental health services.
"Mental health treatment still has a stigma, unlike a lot of other medical treatments," he said. "A lot of times when people do get appropriate treatment, they're not very willing to speak out about it. They need to be some of the greatest advocates for it, so that others may be helped in the future."
Johnson said 2007 was a challenging year for Bert Nash, which faced budget cuts to its WRAP program serving public school students.
But, he said, it was also a successful year with service to 7,710 people and assistance to Kansans following the tornado in Greensburg and flooding in the southeastern part of the state.
The center's endowment, which was $2.8 million a year ago, is now more than $3.3 million.