Happy 60th to Johnson County Mental Health Center!

Two women sit at a booth about the Johnson County Mental Health Center in the 1960s

Following a 1959 community health survey, the League of Women Voters recommended forming a mental health center. On January 18, 1962, the Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to create Johnson County Mental Health Center (JCMHC), which operated from a clinic on West 80th Street in Overland Park with four staff members and an annual budget of $83,176.65.

As programming expanded, JCMHC relocated to 95th and Antioch and remained in that building until 1972. The mental health center received its first federal staffing grant in 1973 under the “Community Mental Health Center (CMHC)” Act. Since the Act stipulated no grantee could serve a population greater than 175,000, JCMHC was split into two operational divisions: the Northeast and Southwest Mental Health Centers. The receipt of those grants marked the beginning of the transformation from a relatively small outpatient clinic to a full-service community mental health center.

In 1982, CMHC grants were converted into single block grants to the states, which removed the population limitation that required JCMHC to maintain two separate operational divisions. The mental health center integrated its operations into a single organization shortly thereafter.

Beginning with Dr. H. Ivor Jones, JCMHC has had five directors over its history that have helped shape and grow mental health services in our community and communities around the state and region.

Hal Boyts consulted for the National Institute of Mental Health in the development of other mental health centers in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. David Wiebe moved as many services as possible into communities across Kansas and helped in-state efforts to develop alternate responses for law enforcement officers in crisis situations involving people with mental illness, now known as crisis intervention training or CIT.

Today, Tim DeWeese leads a financially stable department that has increased collaboration with other county departments and prioritized programs like the Stepping Up Initiative, an initiative to help people in the criminal justice system who experience mental health challenges.

The mental health center now provides a full array of mental health services and programs at five facilities across the county in Mission, Shawnee and Olathe with over 250 clinical and direct care staff. Operations are overseen by the Board of County Commissioners and an appointed advisory board. Services have expanded to include specialized programs for adults with severe mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, individuals with substance use disorder, the deaf and hard of hearing, the elderly, victims of abuse, and juvenile and adult offenders.

JCMHC has an annual operating budget of more than $38 million and employs over 370 staff members who provide mental health and substance use services to 10,000 county residents annually. The mental health center is more committed than ever to building a healthy community through excellence in community mental health.

This year, Johnson County Mental Health Center is celebrating 60 years of service to our community and honoring the first recipients of the North Star Award. The award recognizes The mental health center’s brightest stars. The winners will be announced at Friends of Johnson County Mental Health Center’s fundraising event on June 16 from 6-9 p.m. at the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park. More information about Friends of Johnson County Mental Health Center can be found at friendsofjcmhc.org.