The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Topeka named Governor Laura Kelly 2019’s Mental Health Advocate of the Year, citing her lifelong commitment and contributions to the mental health community. Kelly was presented the award during the 2019 NAMI Topeka Mental Health Awards Banquet on January 30.  

“Receiving this award – Mental Health Advocate of the Year – means so much to me because improving mental health services has been a lifelong mission for me,” said Kelly. “I’ve spent much of my career working in the mental health field, and these experiences opened my eyes to the challenges that so many Kansans face. It instilled in me a commitment to do all I could to make a difference.”  

Kelly began her career as a recreation therapist working with children battling severe mental illness. During her 14 years in the state Senate, Kelly championed access to quality mental health care in schools and community health offices.  

“It’s essential that we increase and improve mental health services available to Kansans – from childhood to adulthood,” said Kelly.  “Medicaid expansion is key to making these services available across the state. I look forward to working with healthcare advocates, community mental health centers, and other stakeholders to expand access to important treatment and services.”  

 NAMI Topeka is a non-profit organization that provides education, advocacy and support to people living with mental illness, as well as their families and friends, in Kansas communities.