Senate Republicans today emphasized their focus on caring for people through several initiatives designed to improve Minnesotans’ mental health. Proposals ranged from funding for more mental health facilities and services, to supportive housing, to school-based mental health programs, and counseling support for farm families.
- S.F. 2161 (Senjem) – Grants for projects to design, construct, and equip crisis centers to care for people with mental illness or substance use disorders, including individuals who are under arrest or subject to arrest, or in immediate need of crisis services.
- S.F. 2159 (Senjem) – Housing infrastructure bonds to create permanent supportive housing for those who need a longer stay or extended monitoring to get back on their feet.
- S.F. 3679 (Rosen) – Grants to support students’ mental health needs via telemedicine.
- S.F. 2555 (Goggin) – Funding for mental health counseling support for farm families and business operators.
- Various bills – Funding for safe schools that can be used for school counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and alcohol and chemical dependency counselors.
Mental health advocates from the medical field, law enforcement, and county governments stood in support of S.F. 2161, legislation that would fill a dire need for additional mental health beds, as emergency rooms and jails are overflowing with patients they are ill-equipped to help. Since the closing of the state hospitals decades ago, Minnesotans have largely been without access to emergency mental health treatment – not only overcrowding hospitals and jails as a result, but denying Minnesotans proper treatment. New crisis centers will allow counties to provide needed community-based services with a focus on crisis stabilization.
“Tragically, there is a severe shortage of mental health facilities in Minnesota that are capable of supporting people when they are at their lowest point. Today we’re proposing the construction of new mental health crisis centers and permanent supportive housing for Minnesotans in emergency situations to help those people get back on their feet,” said Sen. Dave Senjem. “We have a moral obligation to open our arms to those in crisis. Mental health issues touch all genders, races, languages, and ages – including many of our loved ones.”
Additional legislation offered by Republicans, S.F. 3679 and S.F. 2555, would specifically support the mental health needs of students and farm families. Thirty percent of high school students have experienced symptoms of depression in the last twelve months, according to the national High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Rural farm families are also at greater risk, with a suicide rate significantly higher than other occupations, according to the Journal of Rural Health.
“Telemedicine has bridged the gap between patients and health care providers in areas with provider shortages. My bill on using the telemedicine tool with the school-linked mental health program equips schools to serve the growing mental health needs of our student population,” said Sen. Julie Rosen.
Sen. Mike Goggin added, “The mental health crisis affects us all, but farm families are especially vulnerable. As more attention and focus is directed toward mental health concerns, Republicans will continue to advocate for rural communities with unique needs and challenges.”