Clay County’s Investment in Youth Mental Health: A Glimpse into Excelsior Springs

In August 2017, Clay County made a decisive move towards supporting the mental well-being of its young residents by passing a ¼ cent sales tax. This action was not just a financial commitment but also a testament to the county’s dedication to nurturing its future generations. The establishment of a 9-member board, appointed by the Commission to oversee these funds, signified the beginning of a journey toward addressing the mental health needs of individuals aged 0-19. By June 2018, this board received its first deposit of tax revenue, and since then, the investment has grown significantly.

As of December 2018, Clay County had awarded a notable sum of $3.2 million to school districts within its borders, bolstering the support systems for countless students. Fast forward to the present, and the total investment has surged to an impressive $30,676,723. This funding reflects Clay County’s unwavering commitment to its youth, ensuring that services such as crisis intervention, counseling, transitional living programs, and much more are accessible to those in need.

Direct Services in Excelsior Springs, a primary beneficiary of these funds, has disseminated their usage into various critical segments. Outpatient psychiatric treatment, which includes comprehensive mental health care ranging from evaluation to medication management, has been allocated $1,008,935. Counseling and therapy services, integral to mental health maintenance, have been granted $797,131. Intervention and prevention services have received $483,000 and $139,250, respectively, targeting behavior management and the development of mental resilience in children. The treatment of chemical dependency, an often-overlooked but vital aspect of mental health, has been supported with $29,900.

The true measure of any such investment is its impact on the lives it touches. The Excelsior Springs School District offered poignant insights into this impact through two case studies. A high school freshman boy, once struggling with mood swings and sleep issues, has seen a substantial decrease in negative symptoms, now participating actively in school sports, thanks to consistent therapy and medicine management. Similarly, a middle school girl, previously known for her disruptive behavior, has shown remarkable improvement in self-regulation and has not faced suspension for over five weeks—a testament to the efficacy of the therapy and coping techniques provided.

The collaboration between the Fund and local institutions has furthered its reach. With the hospital partnership yielding over 120 mental health screenings and treatments, and the school district partnership resulting in 23 additional screenings and over 700 instances of therapy and prevention services, the importance of the Fund’s influence is clear. Furthermore, the emphasis on professional development ensures that the benefits of these services are maximized by a well-trained, empathetic staff.

These services and outcomes were highlighted in a presentation to the Excelsior Springs Rotary by Kathy Macken, the Executive Director of the Children’s Services Fund of Clay County. Her insights not only showcased the tangible benefits of the fund but also the collaborative spirit that has been pivotal to its success.

For those seeking further information or wishing to understand the full scope of the Children’s Services Fund’s efforts, serves as a resource, illuminating the countless ways in which Clay County is investing in the mental health and future of its children. The collective efforts in these programs and services are more than just numbers—they represent hope, healing, and the promise of a healthier, more resilient generation.

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