Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month

Respect LogoMay is Mental Health Awareness Month, as designated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that advocates and supports Americans with mental illness. To mark the observance, the Respect Institute will host the Fifth Annual “Respect for Mental Health Awareness” program, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 7 at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City.

The program is free and open to everyone. Swope Health, along with other metro area healthcare providers, will be on hand to share information about resources for mental health.

The keynote speaker will be Rachel O’Brien, a board-certified music therapist with Truman Medical Centers.

In addition, a number of speakers from the Respect Institute will share their personal stories about mental illness and recovery. The program also features a panel discussion between a crisis intervention officer of the Kansas City Police Department, a therapist, a minister and a teacher. The program encourages people to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Respect Institute

2019 Mental Health Awareness EventThe Respect Institute, launched in 2010 through the Missouri Department of Mental Health, teaches individuals who have mental illnesses to share their personal stories of recovery with public audiences. The hope is to foster a better public understanding of mental illness and related issues.

The institute trains about 10 to 15 individuals a year, and facilitates presentations to public groups including those at high schools, churches, probation offices, shelters and civic organizations. Over the years, the institute has trained 60 people and about 35 currently are available to speak.

Kansas City’s chapter of the Respect Institute is the largest in the state, largely due to the activity of the three local leaders – Trena Fowler of the Center for Behavioral Medicine; Kellie Sullivan of Truman Medical Centers; and Ruthe Workcuff of Swope Health.

“I like to remind people we are all on a mental health continuum, and we don’t know what traumatic experience might knock us off balance at any moment,” Ruthe said. “I always tell people about the Ten Commandments of good mental health.”

Participants from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Comprehensive Mental Health Services, ReDiscover, Tri-County Mental Health Services Inc., and Truman Medical Centers will also participate at the Respect celebration.

Mental Health Facts in America InfographicTen Commandments of Good Mental Health

  • Think positively. It’s easier!
  • Cherish the ones you love.
  • Continue learning as long as you live.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Exercise daily. It enhances your well-being.
  • Do not complicate your life unnecessarily.
  • Try to understand and encourage those around you.
  • Do not give up. Success in life is a marathon.
  • Discover and nurture your talents.
  • Set goals for yourself and pursue your dreams.


A look back in time.

Swope 50 Year AnniversaryOn a recent Friday afternoon, for just a moment, an audience at Swope Health Central hit the “pause” button to think about what life was like in 1995. The reason? The unsealing of a time capsule placed in the wall of the building by members of the Swope Health Board of Directors and staff members that year. They offered mementos and messages for a future audience.

Fast forward 25 years. That “future audience” of current staff, board members, patients and community representatives were on hand to witness the opening of the time capsule as part of the kickoff of Swope Health’s 50th anniversary year.

Dave Barber

Dave Barber, President and CEO, kicks off the celebration of Swope Health’s 50 years of service to the Kansas City community.

The event began with brief remarks from President and CEO Dave Barber. He spoke of the past, while inviting the audience to offer suggestions of items and messages to place in a new time capsule at the end of 2019.

The unveiling was managed by Dan Barnett, Manager of Communications and Special Events, who wore white gloves as he opened the box and carefully handled each item.

The time capsule included:

  • A proclamation from the Mayor of Kansas City Emmanuel Cleaver II – who today serves as a Representative in Congress.
  • Photos of the Board of Directors.
  • Sample medical records — on paper! Today’s medical records are electronic and available via a Patient Portal from the internet and a mobile app called Healow.
  • Dan Barnett

    Dan Barnett, Manager, Communications and Special Events, reads from the Mayor’s Proclamation on the dedication of the Swope Health Central facility in 1995.

    Polaroid photos of members of the Swope Health staff. Some of the staff members are still working in the same departments!

  • Sample eyeglasses that were the height of fashion in 1995.
  • A listing of codes used for the diseases known in 1995. The listing for today is much larger, a reflection of the advances in medical knowledge.
  • Calendars, memos, guidebooks, pamphlets and other documents, preserved as printed materials, faxes, slides and on discs (CD-ROM).

The mementos will be organized into a traveling display that will be showcased at each of Swope Health’s locations before year-end.

The Time Capsule Opening Ceremony  was the first of a series of events Swope Health will use to celebrate 50 years of service in the community. Other events are scheduled throughout the year, including a community birthday party, a gala celebration, and a year-end event to seal a new time capsule.

Swope Staff Members

Staff, members from the board of directors, patients and community partners gathered for the time capsule’s unsealing. Participants were treated to a hot chocolate bar and cookies as part of the celebration.

Naimish Patel

Naimish Patel, Chief Financial Officer, holds a Polariod picture of an earlier version of himself in the Finance Department at Swope Health.

Time Capsule Items

The variety of items unearthed in the time capsule.

Walk a mile in my shoes…

Rachel MelsonLet’s think about socks for a minute. You probably barely give them a thought, until one goes missing in the wash.

But for the people in our community without regular, permanent housing, those simple socks can make a big difference, says Rachel Melson, Doctor of Nursing Practice, who works in Swope Health’s outreach and Mobile Medical Unit (MMU).

“So many of my patients are embarrassed by their feet and their socks, which may be the same pair they have worn all month,” Rachel said. “They have to walk miles and miles every day to get around and many of them experience foot issues because of that.”

Socks contribute to physical health and mental wellbeing, she says. For example:

  • In cold temperatures, it doesn’t take long for frostbite to set in – about 30 minutes in subzero temperatures. According to Intellicast records, Kansas City traditionally has at least three winter months registering temperatures below 32 degrees, the freezing point.
  • When socks get wet, they can breed bacteria, which can cause infection.
  • Individuals with diabetes are at greater risk of skin injury, infection and amputations, making it even more important to keep feet healthy and free of blisters or sores.
  • Clothing often conveys a feeling of self-worth. People are more motivated to seek support if they have confidence in their appearance. It’s harder to stand tall without clean clothes, socks and shoes.

Hypothermia Infographic

socks and hops

The annual Socks and Hops gala in November 2018 resulted in about 15,000 pairs of new socks donated for the homeless population served by Swope Health.

Rachel says she has seen socks make that kind of impact with homeless individuals.

“It is truly an amazing change in their mood when they are given a new pair of socks to put on instead of their old ones,” she said. “There is nothing like putting on a new pair of socks to make you feel just a little better about yourself.”

Those are the reasons why Swope Health makes such an effort with annual events like Socks and Hops to raise awareness of the need. The most recent event in November 2018 generated donations of more than 15,000 pairs of socks, including donations from corporate sponsors.

Corporate Sponsors

  • Sock 101 is a Kansas City-based custom sock manufacturer. The company designs socks for fundraisers, giveaways, employee gifts, trade shows and general retail. The company emphasizes fun and functionality, said Tosha Everhart, the Sock Boss (yes, that’s her company title) at Sock 101.
    SOCK101 Logo
  • Notes to Self, another Kansas City-based firm, has been a sponsor of the event since 2015. This company creates socks that deliver positive messages. Putting on the socks, the wearer sees a message – I am beautiful, strong, awesome, confident, courageous, joyful or amazing. The idea is to bring positive thoughts to mind while putting on socks.Since its founding in 2011, the company has donated more than 50,000 socks to women’s shelters and other homeless service providers.
    Notes to Self Logo
  • Another contributor to this year’s flood of socks was Bombas LLC, a New York City-based company that makes socks. For each pair of socks purchased, the company donates one pair to someone in need. Founded in 2013, the company has donated more than 10 million pairs of socks – including 10,000 pairs to Socks and Hops.The donated Bombas socks are specially designed for use by people who may not have easy access to laundry. The socks are made with an anti-microbial treatment so they don’t need to be washed as often and reinforced seams and darker colors give them greater durability with less visible wear.

Socks and Hops

The MMU and Socks

“We are kind of known for socks now,” Rachel said. “People seek us out to see if we have any to give.”

Every patient who visits the MMU is given a pair or two of socks on their way out. The MMU makes regular visits to homeless shelters throughout the Kansas City area, year-round.

“Every person deserves to feel good about themselves and to have the opportunity for health,” Rachel said. “The socks we give out are just another way we try to help our patients achieve health and happiness. Socks are often an overlooked part of our wardrobes, but to our patients, a new, clean pair of socks can help prevent disease and promote a sense of wellbeing.”

Swope Health always welcomes donations of new, clean socks and other items. If you’d like to help out, please visit the Swope Health Giving page to learn more, including how you can volunteer or purchase items from our Homeless Outreach Wish List.

New Year, New Look!

By Michelle Keller, Vice President, Community Engagement, Development & Outreach.

50th AnniversaryHello!  Do you see something different here today?

We have created a new look for Swope Health, at the same time we celebrate 50 years of service to our community.

The leadership team and Board of Directors agreed a new look would be an excellent way to kick off our next 50 years.

Why a new look?

As we reflected on our years of service, we also evaluated how we perform – our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

We identified four pillars to define our service to the community, and we re-imagined how we could show you our commitment, starting with our name. The new look should guide us into the future.

Appointment CardsFirst, the four pillars of our service:

  • Understanding: We relate to you, no matter where you are in your healthcare journey.
  • Invested: We’re committed to the communities we serve and the people who need care.
  • Accessible: Our knowledge, services and caring providers are available to everyone.
  • Skilled: Our staff delivers high-quality, expert care at every moment.

We worked with a professional branding firm, Native Digital, whose team challenged us with a question: If Swope Health was a person, what kind of person would we be?

We came up with three ideas: We would want you to think of us as a friend, counselor and advocate.

As a friend, we listen, care about you and work hard to have mutual trust. We speak your language.

As a counselor, we drive you to better understand yourself and to become the best you can be, through empathy, guidance and wisdom.

As an advocate, we are invested in your success and we boost you up so you can achieve your goals. We’re with you on your path to health.

Swope HealthAnd it’s that idea – a path leading to a healthier, happier life – that sparked the change to the logo.

We widened the bottom of the “S” to make it look more like a path, the flowing start of a journey. We also simplified the look of the lettering and made it less formal, more friendly.

Then finally, we jazzed up the colors! We want to be clean, bright and fresh.

You’ll see vibrant colors throughout our presence: pink and maroon, dark blue and light blue, dark green and light green.

All of this comes together in our new look. I hope this gives you a peek into our thinking and I hope you will see us in a new light.

Let us know how we’re doing in meeting our pillars and serving as your friend, counselor and advocate.

Comments always welcome – use the text box below or send an email to editor@SwopeHealth.org.

Awash in socks and suds!

BloomBakery - ANNALISE BAINES The Fourth Annual Socks and Hops, held Saturday, Nov. 10, raised awareness of SHS’s Healthcare for the Homeless program while participants raised their glasses filled with the products of local craft breweries.

The event also raised more than $29,000 and collected more than 15,000 pairs of socks – exceeding last year’s tally of 4,000 pairs.

More than 270 participants attended the event at the historic City Market in downtown Kansas City.

In addition, sponsorship fees and donations raised money for more than 7,000 Heater Meals for the homeless.

“We are really proud of this event, and it’s getting bigger each year,” said Amy Kuhnlein, Community Affairs Manager at SHS.


“This year we had more brewers and chefs involved, made more money from our raffle than ever, and had the highest attendance yet.”

The event featured food and drink prepared by 17 of the city’s best-loved chefs and brewers, as well as raffles for a variety of donated items ranging from steaks and wines to beard-grooming products, Chiefs memorabilia, barbecue and grilling collections, and gift cards to local businesses.

“Socks and Hops is the best ticket in town for enjoying delicious food and beer from notable chefs and brewers while supporting a cause that benefits the well-being of our overall community,” said Sue Patterson, Director of Marketing and Events – City Market. “I have a long history with Swope Health and appreciate the opportunity to support their programs.”


In addition to pairing craft brews with artisan treats made by local chefs, the event encourages contributions to meals and collects socks for the homeless. Socks are among the most-requested items at homeless shelters.

One big contributor to this year’s flood of socks was Notes to Self, a Kansas City-based firm that uses socks to deliver positive messages.

Putting on the socks, the wearer sees a message – I am beautiful, strong, awesome, confident, courageous, joyful or amazing. The idea is to bring positive thoughts to mind with the simple act of putting on socks.

Notes to Self TM donated socks for the VIP gift bags, as well as additional socks to deliver to the homeless community.


Since its founding in 2011, the company has donated more than 50,000 socks to women’s shelters and other homeless service providers.

They have been the official sock sponsor of Socks and Hops since the first event was held in 2015.

It’s never too late to contribute to our efforts. Please visit SHS’s Giving page to learn more, including how you can volunteer or purchase items from our Homeless Outreach Wish List.

*All photos by Annalise Baines. 


Shop Local at the SHS Holiday Mart

Holiday Mart (1) (Custom)With the holiday season just around the corner, Swope Health Services is offering a way to help you get ahead of the shopping rush.

This year, the annual SHS Holiday Mart moves to November!

The Holiday Mart runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in the activity rooms in Building C at SHS Central. The event is free and open to the public.

The activity rooms are transformed into a retail extravaganza, packed with tables featuring local shops, crafts and artists.

You’ll find clothing, jewelry, books, accessories, artwork, furnishings – and more. Last year’s Holiday Mart also included beauty products, handbags, food items and home decorations.

The event raises money by charging a $30 fee for local area retailers to set up shop in the Mart.

Holiday Mart (2) (Custom)“This entire event serves a purpose beyond shopping and getting ready for the holidays,” said Sonya Bolden-Oakley, Supervisor, Adult Day Program in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program.

“All proceeds from the event go directly to the Day Program. This event makes it possible for us to provide a Holiday party and small gifts for our clients.”

The Day Program offers a range of group activities for adults, ranging from learning gardening skills to cooking programs and art activities.

The program serves 78 adults, Monday through Friday, teaching them coping and communications skills, while also helping them build teamwork through everyday activities.

Participants often share personal experiences and provide support to each other through the program.

Shop LunchThis year, participants in the art activities will offer items for sale, including unique painted furniture and other decorative arts.

Our 2018 Holiday Mart retailers include Micah’s Boutique, Final Touch Jewelry & Accessories, Shining Stars/Paparazzi Accessories, Heels On Wheels, Jewels Boutique and Hand Decorated Christmas Ornaments.  There are more to come, said Sonya.

If you’d like to participate as a vendor in the Holiday Mart, contact Sonya Bolden-Oakley, 816-599-5263 or sbolden-oakley@swopehealth.org.

Meet the Socks and Hops Chefs and Brewers at BrewHaHa!

Brew Ha HaIt’s almost time for the Fourth Annual SHS Socks and Hops, a benefit to build awareness of SHS’s Healthcare for the Homeless program, our Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) and the services we provide to all those in need.

But first, here’s a chance to meet and raise a glass with the sponsors, chefs and brewers at the BrewHaHa Happy Hour at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Bier Station, 120 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City.

The warm-up event is free and open to the public, and offers a chance to preview some of the craft beers that will be available at the Socks and Hops event.

Additionally, the pre-event features an “Ultimate Socks and Hops Gift Basket” raffle and a chance to purchase tickets for the main event Saturday, Nov. 10, at City Market.  Tickets are also available here for VIP ($75) and general ($45) admission.

While admission is FREE to the BrewHaHa pre-event, you are invited to bring new, clean and warm socks for our Healthcare for the Homeless mobile outreach program. The socks are distributed via the MMU, which also offers healthcare services to the homeless in our community.

“This is a casual pre-party where you can sample some of the great brews from selected Socks and Hops participating brewers and lock in your tickets,” said Amy Kuhnlein, Community Affairs Manager at SHS. “Or just come to raise a glass and learn about the SHS services and hang out with some of the city’s best brewers and chefs.”

Add the dates to your calendar:

  • BrewHaHa, 4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30, Bier Station, 120 E. Gregory Blvd, Kansas City.
  • Socks and Hops, 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, City Market, 20 W. Fifth St., Kansas City. Tickets (VIP or General Admission) available here.

Mark Your Calendar: Treat Town, Oct. 31

The annual Swope Health Services Treat Town for safe Halloween trick or treating will be held 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31. The event is free and open to the public.

For this event, the 23rd annual Treat Town, SHS Central Building C is converted into a spooky Halloween extravaganza, with lots of places for kids to show off their costumes and collect toys and treats. Community organizations also participate, offering information along with their candy and treats for the tricksters age 12 and under.

There’s music and dancing, provided again this year by Battery Tour, featuring AY MusiK, the founder and leader of this popular Kansas City-based community-focused music festival band.

Last year, more than 1,500 children and their parents came to Treat Town. For many children, Treat Town was their first-ever trick-or-treat experience – warm, safe and fun with plenty of toys and treats. No tricks!

Please plan on joining us for Treat Town!

Treat Town

Participants at a recent Treat Town at SHS all filled their bags with candy, toys and treats!

Join us for National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9-15, 2018

suicide warning signsSwope Health Services is joining in the campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention, in alignment with National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9-15, 2018.

“Our goal is awareness,” said Nicole James, Crisis Specialist at SHS. “We want to be accessible to everyone.”

SHS activities will extend though National Suicide Prevention Month and include:

  • Promoting awareness through T-shirts and outreach: The Crisis Team will set up tables in the SHS Central lobby on Fridays (Sept. 14, 21 and 28) for outreach with information, stress balls and cards. T-Shirts will be available for sale ($12 for short sleeve, $15 for long sleeve) with all funds supporting the Zero Suicide
  • Encouraging kindness: SHS is using “Care Cards” to provide an extra outreach and show support to anyone facing challenges. The postcards have simple messages, like “I Care About YOU.” SHS providers, case managers and associates are invited to use the cards with their patients and clients. Cards are developed by participants in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program and will be available through the crisis staff for anyone to use.
  • Advocating for primary care providers’ engagement in identifying behavioral health issues. As part of the Zero Suicide initiative at SHS, providers and clinical staff are encouraged to use a standard Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) to identify patients in need of support.

A majority of suicides – 83 percent – are completed by people who had seen a primary care provider within a year, Nicole said, citing data from Zero Suicide. The idea is that providers can help reduce suicides by recognizing depression and other warning signs and addressing those issues.

power of connectionThere is no single cause of suicide – it occurs when an individual becomes overwhelmed by stress and experiences feelings of hopelessness and despair. Each year, nearly 45,000 people complete suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed. That’s why it is so important to be aware of depression and other mental health conditions, and to address them with treatment. Events like these at Swope Health aim to remove the stigma associated with suicide and depression, Nicole said.

“We can all benefit from a little kindness, and from honest conversations about mental health and wellness,” she said. “We can all benefit from connecting with each other. We all have a role in preventing suicides.”

If you are worried about someone, take action:

  • Call the Access Crisis Intervention Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-888-279-8188. These confidential calls are routed to Swope Health and provide direct local support.
  • Call the national Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Send a text to 741 741. You can text the word “home” or ask a question.

“If you have any doubt or any question, just call. Or text. Or come in,” Nicole said. “You can ALWAYS walk in and ask to speak with a crisis specialist. We are here for you.”

More resources and information about Suicide Prevention: