Mental health crisis resources for Wichitans
The Wichita Beacon compiled a list of resources to call in a mental health crisis, and frequently asked questions about each one. (Illustration/The Beacon)

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Editor’s note: We updated this story on Feb. 23 to include the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.


Sedgwick County is in the midst of a communitywide conversation around mental health, law enforcement and juvenile justice in the wake of Cedric Lofton’s death. One question has been recurring: whom to call in a mental health crisis.

Lofton, 17, died in September after being held face-down for over 30 minutes in a Sedgwick County facility. He was in the midst of a mental health crisis when his foster father called 911.

In the months since, Sedgwick County has convened a task force to review the circumstances of his death and the operations of the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center where he was detained. At its first meeting on Feb. 3, Marquetta Atkins, the executive director of juvenile-justice advocacy group Progeny, said current resources for people in mental health crises are insufficient.

“We had a who-do-you-call event a few months ago to see, who do you call when people are in a mental health crisis?” Atkins said. “The general outcome was there is nobody to call like this.”

But Progeny gathered a list of some existing resources that are available to people in crisis — organizations to call before 911. 

The Wichita Beacon expanded on those resources and answered commonly asked questions about each one, including: 

  • What sort of support will they give me over the phone?
  • Can they dispatch someone to my location?
  • Will law enforcement respond?
  • Can you access this service anonymously?

Click below to see details about each resource, review our spreadsheet to compare resources or check out the graphic with an overview of each resource below.

COMCARE’s 24-Hour Hotline & Community Crisis Center

One-sentence summary of what they are

The county-run crisis center operates a 24/7 hotline as well as mobile and outpatient crisis services for mental health assistance and suicide prevention.

Phone number

316-660-7500

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

Anyone needing mental health support can call for help, though priority is given to callers who may be at risk for suicide. The hotline can give recommendations for treatment and resources.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

Yes, the crisis center operates a mobile crisis unit that will dispatch a master’s level therapist and a case manager to your location. 

Will law enforcement respond?

Not often, said Jennifer Wilson, director of crisis services within COMCARE. If someone calls in sharing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, the crisis line first tries to de-escalate the situation over the phone or with the mobile crisis unit. 

“If somebody’s unable to reach safety, we’d ask for law enforcement intervention,” Wilson said. “But It doesn’t happen often at all.”

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

  • 24-hour walk-in assessment and crisis intervention services, in which a mental health professional is available to meet. 
  • Crisis observation unit, which allows adults in crisis to stay at COMCARE with access to mental health professionals for up to 23 hours. 
  • Crisis stabilization unit, which allows adults to stay at a COMCARE facility staffed by clinicians and case managers for up to 72 hours.
  • A children’s crisis residential unit located at the Wichita Children’s Home. 
  • Sobering and detox units, which can be used by adults for up to 23 hours.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

None. While the crisis observation and crisis stabilization units allow people to stay overnight, they are not considered inpatient services, Wilson said.

Where are they located?

  • 635 N. Main for walk-in assessments, the crisis stabilization unit and sober/detox units
  • 1720 E. Morris for the crisis stabilization unit
  • 7271 E 37th St. N. for the children’s crisis residential unit

When do they operate?

24/7. The mobile crisis unit is currently not staffed to operate 24/7, however.

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes. Anyone can use the hotline or mental health assessment services. The children’s crisis residential unit takes children 6 through 18.

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

All languages, according to Wilson, via a telephonic or in-person interpreter. In-person translators are available for the deaf and hard of hearing.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

Over the phone, you will typically be asked for your name, date of birth and address.

In person, more detailed information is collected regarding demographics, financial information and risk assessments. 

Can you access this service anonymously?

Residents can provide a false name when they call in, but the staff on the hotline generally try to get identifying information, Wilson said.

“We have a lot of people that call in as John or Jane Doe,” Wilson said.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

One-sentence summary of what they are:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7. In Sedgwick County, calls to the national hotline are transferred to COMCARE.

Phone number:

  • 1-800-273-8255
  • This summer, the national suicide lifeline number will switch to just three digits, 988
  • You can also chat via text with the national suicide line here.

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

A trained crisis counselor will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support and share any resources that may be helpful.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

Since these calls are routed to COMCARE in Sedgwick County, they can provide a mobile crisis unit that will dispatch a master’s level therapist and a case manager to your location. 

Will law enforcement respond?

Not often, said Jennifer Wilson, director of crisis services within COMCARE. If someone calls in sharing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, the crisis line first tries to de-escalate the situation over the phone or with the mobile crisis unit. 

“If somebody’s unable to reach safety, we’d ask for law enforcement intervention,” Wilson said. “But It doesn’t happen often at all.”

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

See COMCARE’s 24-Hour Hotline & Community Crisis Center.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

See COMCARE’s 24-Hour Hotline & Community Crisis Center.

Where are they located?

N/A.

When do they operate?

24/7.

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes. Anyone can use the suicide hotline. 

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

All languages, according to Wilson, via a telephonic or in-person interpreter. 

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

Over the phone, you will typically be asked for your name, date of birth and address.

Can you access this service anonymously?

Residents can provide a false name when they call in, but the staff on the hotline generally try to get identifying information, Wilson said.

“We have a lot of people that call in as John or Jane Doe,” Wilson said.

Kansas Children and Families Mobile Crisis Helpline

One-sentence summary of what they are:

The crisis line serves families and caregivers who have children experiencing emotional crisis or other behavioral health symptoms, including substance use disorder.

Phone number:

  • 833-441-2240

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

  • Support and problem solving to help resolve a child’s behavioral health crisis.
  • Support with referral to community resources or a recommendation to engage in stabilization services.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

Yes, the helpline will send in-person support via mobile crisis response if the crisis cannot be resolved over the phone.

The mobile crisis unit is operated by Sedgwick County’s COMCARE and includes a master’s level therapist and a case manager. 

Will law enforcement respond?

In emergency situations, EMS, law enforcement and/or the mobile crisis response unit will be contacted to assist.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

Where are they located?

N/A.

When do they operate?

24/7. The mobile crisis unit is currently not staffed to operate 24/7, however.

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes. Anyone under 18 is eligible. Young adults between the ages of 18 to 21 who were formerly in the foster care system also are eligible for the services.

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

The line has the capability to support callers in over 200 languages.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

Name, date of birth and Social Security number are the standard identifiers used to determine age and possible Medicaid coverage for the caller, according to Mike Deines, the senior director of public and governmental affairs for the Kansas Department for Children and Families. 

Can you access this service anonymously?

Yes. 

If EMS needs to be called, name and location are necessary, Deines added.

KVC Children’s Psychiatric Hospital in Wichita

One-sentence summary of what they are:

This hospital is inpatient care for young people experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, the impacts of trauma, and other behavioral and mental health challenges. 

Phone number:

  • 913-890-7468

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

Throughout the call, a member of the KVC Hospitals admissions teams seeks to determine whether inpatient hospitalization is appropriate by asking for health history and a review of concerns in the last 24-48 hours. 

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

No.

Will law enforcement respond?

A representative from KVC Hospitals wrote that there are times when they may ask a client to be medically cleared, which could involve a call to law enforcement or emergency dispatch services.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

  • Medical, clinical and nursing assessment within the first 24 hours of admission
  • Intensive psychiatric care and medication management
  • Individual, family and group therapy sessions
  • Case coordination
  • 24/7 support and supervision from nursing staff

Where are they located?

1507 W. 21st St. N. 

When do they operate?

24/7. 

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes. KVC Hospitals only works with children and teens between ages 6 to 18.

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

“We aim to meet each child’s unique needs, including finding services for communication in any language,” wrote Blythe Hinderliter, marketing and communications director for KVC Hospitals.  

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

For a child to be admitted to KVC, their guardian must complete paperwork that shares personal contact and demographic information, health insurance coverage (if applicable) and other personal factors, according to Hinderliter.

Can you access this service anonymously?

No.

United Way 211

One-sentence summary of what they are:

211 is a free, 24/7 confidential service that is meant to connect people with a broad variety of resources, including for mental health and addiction. 

Phone number:

  • 211

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

The 211 specialist can help locate long-term mental health resources, talk through a problem or explore mental health treatment options.

The 211 line is not technically a crisis line or mental health support line, so support staff are not mental health counselors. If a caller needs immediate help, they may be transferred to COMCARE, said Heather Pierce, the 211 coordinator for United Way of the Plains.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

No.

Will law enforcement respond?

In emergency situations, 211 will contact EMS or law enforcement to do a welfare check if they’re able to get an address from the caller, Pierce said.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

Where are they located?

N/A.

When do they operate?

24/7. 

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes. 

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

The line has the capability to support callers in over 200 languages.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

Typically, the staff asks for a ZIP code or city so they can make connections to local resources. 

Can you access this service anonymously?

Yes. 

1800CHILDRENKS

One-sentence summary of what they are:

This helpline is available for parents 24/7 if they’re looking for “judgment-free” support. This resource is also available via mobile app.

Phone number:

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

“By calling, you can expect that somebody will listen, ask you questions and help you find the solutions that you need,” said Pam Noble, assistant director for Prevent Child Abuse Kansas at Kansas Children’s Service League.

The number is not a crisis line. Noble said people in crisis will typically be told to call 911 or the Kansas Children and Families Mobile Crisis Helpline. 

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

No.

Will law enforcement respond?

Only in emergencies, and only if the caller was willing to give the staff member their address. 

“It’s dependent on the person wanting to share address and contact info,” Noble said.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

Kansas Children’s Service League offers crisis nursery case management, which provides  short-term care services for children when parents are experiencing a crisis or extreme stress. The center also offers outpatient mental health programs in their Wichita office, but not as a crisis service. 

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

Where are they located?

1365 N. Custer 

When do they operate?

24/7

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes. 

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

Over 200 languages. The database in the mobile app can be translated into over 100 languages.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

The relationship to the child involved, the ages of the children involved, and the county where the phone call originated. 

Can you access this service anonymously?

Yes.

Ascension Via Christi Behavioral Health Center

One-sentence summary of what they are:

Ascension Via Christi Behavioral Health provides intensive inpatient psychiatric care from adolescents to seniors with the goal of stabilizing patients. 

Phone number:

  • Inpatient: 316-268-5000
  • Outpatient: 316-858-0218

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

This is not a crisis line. The inpatient line will help with intake to inpatient units.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

No.

Will law enforcement respond?

No.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

The hospital has an outpatient partial day hospital that serves adolescents and adults. Patients participate in six hours of group therapy per day. 

They also have a separate intensive outpatient program in which patients participate in three hours of therapy per day.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

St. Joseph has inpatient services for ages 12 and up, which provides medication management, stabilization and group therapy. 

Their senior behavioral unit serves Medicare beneficiaries with psychiatric or neurocognitive disorders. 

Where are they located?

  • Inpatient services and hospital are at 3600 E. Harry St.
  • Outpatient services are at 1515 S. Clifton Ave.

When do they operate?

  • Inpatient services and hospital operate 24/7
  • Outpatient services run Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes, they treat ages 12 and above.

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

A representative from Ascension Via Christi did not provide the answer to this question.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

A representative from Ascension Via Christi did not provide the answer to this question.

Can you access this service anonymously?

A representative from Ascension Via Christi did not provide the answer to this question.

Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas

One-sentence summary of what they are:

The Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas offers between 30 and 35 different programs, several of which can respond on demand during business hours. These include an outpatient counseling service and a service that connects people who struggle with mental illness with housing.

Phone number:

  • Main number & residential services: 316-685-1821
  • Outpatient counseling center: 316-652-2590

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

This phone numbers are not crisis lines, but for scheduling appointments for counseling or residential services.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

No.

Will law enforcement respond?

No.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

  • The MHA offers same-day and next-day outpatient counseling for those looking for immediate services.
  • The MHA offers residential services that connect people who struggle with mental illness with housing. The MHA operates apartments, group homes and senior housing.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

N/A.

Where are they located?

9415 E. Harry St., Suite 800

When do they operate?

8 a.m. — 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes.

Is insurance required?

Not necessarily, said Eric Litwiller, the director of development and communications with MHA. The organization has a program that can pay for those without insurance or with financial need.

“We really try to avoid financial circumstances ever being a hurdle to getting that care,” Litwiller said.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

The MHA has some bilingual staff who speak English and Spanish. They also recently purchased translation devices which can accommodate up to 20 different languages.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

Name, address, age and gender are all asked of the patient. But you are not required to disclose that information to use MHA’s counseling services.

Can you access this service anonymously?

Yes.

911

One-sentence summary of what they are:

911 is available for anyone in Sedgwick County “to report any activity that is harmful to a person, animal or property.” This can include mental health crises if there is a potential for the person to harm themselves or others, according to Elora Forshee, director of emergency communications. 

Phone number:

  • 911

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

The first priority of 911 is to gather information.

Beyond information gathering, 911 staff is trained to be a supportive ear for callers in the midst of mental health crises, according to Forshee.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

Yes, the job of the 911 operators is to dispatch law enforcement, emergency medical services and/or the fire department to your location.

Will law enforcement respond?

Most mental health crises that are called into 911 receive a law enforcement response, according to Forshee.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

EMTs and paramedics receive some training on mental health emergencies, including recognizing common mental health crises and de-escalation techniques, according to Malachi Winters, program manager for Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Service. 

They are not trained to provide therapy or find a resolution to the emergency but to safely transport the patient to an emergency department, Winters wrote. 

In some cases, ICT-1 will respond to a 911 call if available and mental health is deemed the primary crisis. ICT-1 is a team of three first responders: a mental health professional, a law enforcement officer and a paramedic.

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

None.

Where are they located?

N/A

When do they operate?

24/7

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes.

Is insurance required?

No, health insurance is not required for a call to 911 or to receive treatment by EMS. 

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

Emergency communications utilize third-party translation services that provide access to translators for over 150 languages.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

At minimum, 911 communications will ask callers a location to respond to, a brief understanding of what is occurring and the phone number of the person calling. 

Can you access this service anonymously?

Yes, but address is required.

ICT-1

One-sentence summary of what they are:

ICT-1 is a team of three county and city employees that respond to mental health crises in the community that are identified by 911 and the COMCARE Crisis center. The team consists of a mental health professional, a law enforcement officer, and a paramedic.

Phone number:

  • None listed. The team is dispatched by 911 and/or the COMCARE Crisis system.

What sort of support will they give me over the phone?

N/A.

Can they dispatch someone to my location?

Yes. ICT-1 goes to patients who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, substance use issues, psychosis or other mental health issues that cannot wait for other resources.

Will law enforcement respond?

Yes, a law enforcement officer is part of the ICT-1 team.

What outpatient crisis services do they provide?

ICT-1’s website lists several options for treating someone in place, including: 

  • Verbal support
  • Printed materials
  • Natural support
  • Scheduling an appointment

What inpatient crisis services do they provide?

The team may transport community members to COMCARE, the hospital voluntarily or involuntarily, or jail.

Where are they located?

N/A.

When do they operate?

Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Do they treat people under 18?

Yes.

Is insurance required?

No.

What languages does this service have the capacity for?

ICT-1 has access to the county’s purchased translator app that gives them access to a real-time translator for most languages.

What information are you expected to give about yourself, if any?

The ICT-1 staff typically asks for basic demographic information, medical history, psychiatric history and care received from other providers, including medical and mental health. 

Can you access this service anonymously?

Sedgwick County senior public information officer Nicole Gibbs wrote that it is unlikely that the ICT-1 team will be able to provide support or resources that are tailored to their situation if a patient is unwilling to share basic demographic information.

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Hack covers local government for The Wichita Beacon. She is a Report for America corps member. Follow her on Twitter @CeliaHack.