Cheyenne County Hospital Mental Health

Cheyenne County Hospital

The Cheyenne County Hospital was awarded a Cheyenne County Hansen Community Grant of $10,000 in 2021.

With the Kansas Health Foundation Healthy Communities Initiative grant, we have been working locally for the past 2.5 years to address food access and mental health in Cheyenne County. The community health survey has identified mental health as a need for the past ten years at least and the residents and community members have reiterated this need for change repeatedly. Two years ago Candi Douthit learned about trauma informed care/adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) and how these life events, if not partnered with a caring support system, lead to long term chronic health conditions and negative life outcomes. Since that time, we have been working to bring awareness of ACE’s to our county and region as we see this as a way to prevent or intervene early so as to not have greater issues (such as addiction, poverty, disease, mental illness, and early death) that we don’t have the capacity to heal. We have very limited mental health, poverty, and addiction resources and so our group feels the best way is to intervene early through the schools and community, to eventually lead to improved health and well being in Cheyenne County. There are many “programs” and resources to educate about trauma and work toward healing, but we have learned the greatest way to intervene is through having strong, caring, adult relationships. This acts as a buffer to whatever traumas are going on and oftentimes that one relationship becomes the life raft that encourages the individual to strive through and grow beyond the trauma. For Cheyenne County and northwest Kansas, we feel we have the assets of time, caring adults, and opportunity for relationships if we just educate those adults on how to have even more impact, just by being a friend.
To further support the need for this effort, we just hosted a 3 part Mental Health Forum in Bird City, which had 40 individuals from 8 counties coming together to talk about mental health; the barriers, the resources, and to create a strategic plan of action to help our residents. This led to four action plans: Increasing education on trauma/mental health and working to combat the stigma of mental health. Research and educate on peer counseling. Support and bolster the mental health staff we have by hosting a NW KS mental health symposium. And finally, Train lay people to be compassionate, resilient listeners to work against social isolation. We are excited for these plans and thus feel this grant would provide a depth of financial resources to support the organizations as the work to bring change.