This week included a meeting with the principals at Crow Wing County that take on the many issues related to untreated mental illnesses. The team included the county board members, the county administrator, the county sheriff, county attorney, jail administrator, heath and human services director and her team, as well as private sector mental health professionals.
We examined the social costs to local communities that untreated mental illness cause. The list of negative impacts is long and complex including: children in out of home placement, habitual arrests and confinement, the inability to hold a job and all types of substance abuse. Despite every effort by county HHS professionals, law enforcement personnel and the court system, their efforts cannot take the place of effective treatment of the underlying mental health issue.
Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of correcting “warehousing” of patients at state mental hospitals is we now have “revolving door warehousing” at the county jail level. The best ambulance service in world doesn’t help if there is no hospital and trained medical staff in place to treat the patient.
Several decades ago Minnesota, closed down or reduced the state mental hospital capacity and also capped the number of mental health treatment beds allowed. The baby was thrown out with the bath water. In retrospect, Minnesota did not maintain or expand where necessary the capacity at the local or regional level to treat both acute and chronic mental illnesses.
The takeaway from this very productive meeting was twofold. We must understand and account for the tremendous cost of untreated mental illness. And, with that understanding, we must restore local and regional capacities to treat mental illness. To the Crow Wing County team, thank you for providing important insights into this critical issue.
This week, I also visited the Crow Wing Recycling’s plant near Deerwood. The company has done a great job repurposing the strand board plant site into a highly advanced recycling center. The company is working on further upgrading the facility with new technology that will allow increased efficiencies in recycling all types of metals.
Later today, I will be attending the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Annual Convention. I look forward to catching up on the latest within an industry I remain directly involved in as a beef producer.