Before we discuss legislative activities, my wife Linda and I wish to relay a special message as we celebrate the advent of Easter and Passover. The crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord is the foundation of our Christian belief and the Passover figures prominently in both Jewish and Christina Religious history. It is an important time to pause and thank our Lord for the many blessings we enjoy.
The House continues to work on improving our mental health services. I have co-authored several bills that take on this complicated subject. As a state and nation we overreacted to the problem of warehousing troubled individuals in our state hospitals. Over several decades we systematically eliminated most of Minnesota’s state hospitals without effectively replacing that element of our mental health treatment system.
In our area we demolished the Brainerd State Hospital without a replacement, we shut down the Moose Lake State Hospital and re-purposed it into a medium security jail. It is going to take time to get us back on the correct path. Today, we do not have enough beds available in Minnesota for our adolescents or adults that require high level mental health and/or addiction treatment.
An idea that has been put forward from the county level is to establish regional behavioral health crisis centers. I am co-authoring a bill (HF 3064) that would provide support to establish six regional centers within the state. Those centers would serve individuals suffering from mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.
The fact is today we often must send both trouble adolescents and adults from our area out of the state because in Minnesota we simply do not have the facilities or medical personnel available to deal with the level of need within our communities. Rebuilding acute and long term treatment centers on a regional basis within Minnesota will help break the vicious cycle of bouncing people between hospital emergency rooms and jail or juvenile detention centers.
It’s a tall order and will take time to fix this problem, however we must stay focused on resolving this problem. Improving how we deal with mental health issues and dealing with school safety issues has our full attention this session.
The legislature will be on Easter/Passover break next week, please be safe as we work through this sometimes unpredictable spring weather.