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Johnson County teen finds help, healing through mental health services

Johnson County Mental Health Center offers help to kids, families
Posted at 1:55 PM, Jun 07, 2024


May marked the end of Mental Health Awareness Month. But, for those who are impacted, it can be a yearlong struggle.

However, there are resources available, including those without insurance or those who still find themselves unable to afford services.

Last month we highlighted how the Johnson County Mental Health Center offers help to adults struggling with mental health issues.

This month, we're highlighting how those same services can help teens and kids, especially if cost is prohibiting you from getting your child the help they need.



This summer Keri Johnson is celebrating her stepdaughter Addie's graduation from high school.

Although it's a milestone for most teens her age, it's a moment that was almost derailed by severe mental health challenges in high school.

"There was a lot of behavior that wasn’t matching what she was claiming to be her issue," Keri recalled.

Keri says it came to a head when she and her husband got a call from Addie's school resource officer, reporting some concerning behavior that could jeopardize her school career.

That’s when the teenager told them she'd experienced trauma when she was younger at the hands of another adult in her life.

"That kind of just stemmed a whole new path for us, you know? All the time before that we thought we were dealing with something completely different," Keri explained.

Once the family realized they were dealing with something deeper than anger issues and teenage rebellion, they ended up at the Johnson County Mental Health Center, where Addie received services for about three years to address her PTSD and major depressive disorder.

Not only did it help her turn her life around, the price tag was something the family could afford.

"Anyone is able to walk into one of our open access offices in Olathe or Shawnee and request to be evaluated for our services. We can offer low-to-no-cost services for clients, whereas in private practices often times, they don’t take insurance. It can be a pretty hefty cost," explained pediatric clinician Emily Stratton, with the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

She added the Johnson County Mental Health Center primarily caters to adults, teens and kids who need more intensive treatment.

When it comes to kids, she and her colleagues note mental health issues are more prevalent than people might realize.

"So, some things to look out for are failing grades at school, isolation, that can be isolation from friends or family members, behavioral issues at school, at home and the loss of interest, loss of appetite, sleeping issues, all sorts of different things," she shared.

Emily also said if your child seems to be struggling, it's important to get them into treatment as soon as possible.

And, if you don't know where to start, Keri suggested trying school counselors, resource officers, your family doctor or even walking into the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

She said finding the right help for Addie made a world of difference not just for her, but for their entire family.

"We are all in a better place. She’s definitely in a better place, and it’s just nice that she actually cares about her future, and knows that she can go on and do whatever she wants with her life," Keri explained.


One resource that family and the JOCO Mental Health Center wanted us to share with you is the crisis hotline.

Anyone in crisis or the loved one of someone experiencing a mental health crisis can get help 24/7 simply by calling 988.

Here are additional resources:
Johnson County Mental Health Center Main Line: 913-826-4200

Calling the main line can be a starting point for someone who may want to call to schedule an assessment instead of walking in, or just wants to ask questions about insurance, self-pay, etc.
Johnson County Mental Health Center Crisis Line: 913-826-0156

The crisis line is an around-the-clock resource for mental health support. You can call to ask any mental health or substance use question, big or small, for yourself or a loved one. There are trained, local mental health professionals answering calls who can listen, support, provide guidance and share resources.
Open Access (Walk-In Services): Shawnee (6440 Nieman Road) and Olathe (1125 W. Spruce St.)

Johnson County Mental Health Center provides same-day, walk-in services during business hours at their Shawnee and Olathe locations. Open Access provides mental health assessments and connections to services at JCMHC or out in the community based on a person’s needs.
Johnson County Mental Health Center’s Children & Family Services []
Free Parenting and Child Care Provider Resources []
Youth Behavioral Health Care Map []
The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition created a youth behavioral health care map as a starting point for parents who may be seeking mental health services for their children. The map includes ways to recognize warning signs, know who can help, prepare for an appointment, and understand the range of services that might be available.