Senator Dave Senjem discusses bonding proposal to curb mental he - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Senator Dave Senjem discusses bonding proposal to curb mental health crisis


The Senate Capitol Investment Committee continued its tour of Southeast Minnesota Tuesday, visiting Mayo Clinic - St. Marys and talking about the mental health crisis in Minnesota.

The Committee first toured the hospital's emergency facilities, then Senator Dave Senjem discussed a bonding proposal to establish six behavioral health crisis centers across Minnesota.

During the discussion, Sen. Senjem said one of the big issues with the crisis was how mental illness is managed in Minnesota, as well as the stigma associated with mental illness. He also said a lot of times mentally ill patients end up going to places that are not equipped to treat them, and that includes jails and emergency rooms.

"Hospitals and emergency rooms are basically equipped to handle medical emergencies. This is a psychological emergency, and they're not equipped for that," said Sen. Senjem, "And it's life, it's real. Every night of this week somewhere in this city or this state, there are people that are in crisis with respect to mental illness and they need help, and they have no where to go."

In addition, patients tend to spend hours or days there before getting treated.

"That's a big part of my story," said NAMI SE Minnesota Executive Director Courtney Lawson. "It was just a very disjointed experience, and there wasn't a lot of follow through. So I would go in when I wasn't doing well, you know that's typically when you seek care, and I'd get one of the diagnoses and then there wouldn't really be any follow up."

Lawson said she had been struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder for about ten years at the time. She said her personal experience led her to make sure others don't have the same experience she did, and to make sure the system functions more effectively.

The next step is to have a hearing at the state capitol to see if the bill is fine as it is or if it needs to be amended, and to talk about staffing those behavioral crisis centers as they're built.

The discussion included Mayo doctors and officials from Olmsted County.

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