The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

November 17, 2013

More work needed on mental health

WHY IT MATTERS: Even with improvement in insurance coverage, we have a long way to go in actual parity in care for the mentally ill.

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People going through the commitment process are kept in a hospital setting because there is no other place, with space available, that is qualified to care for them. So the remaining nine people who weren’t committed were taking up bed space for no reason.

If the commitment process was shortened from around six weeks to a week, those people could be moved through more quickly and make room for people who need emergency services.

Nicollet County Sheriff David Lange noted that one time this year an inmate attempted to commit suicide. Mental health care facilities in the area wouldn’t accept the inmate because he was a prisoner.

While a discussion on how to improve the mental health system is needed, we need more action and commitment from state legislators. Those most vulnerable people don’t have much of a political voice and can be relatively ignored in the rush of other priorities.

Wellstone once said “Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and the world. Politics is about doing well for the people.”

Our state lawmakers would do well to refer back to this vision and prioritize improvements in how our state cares for the mentally ill.

Other views on this topic:

“To my knowledge, there has been nothing in the last several years of a major nature like this that has been passed with such bipartisan support. On a policy level, this proves it can still be done.”

Pushing for parity was “a labor of love. That’s how we stay sober. We’ve got to give back, and that’s part of my giving back. I’m just grateful I was in a position to do so. Patrick [Kennedy] and I are going to continue our work together. We still have a long ways to go, especially on the stigma.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., in an interview with MinnPost. Ramstad with U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., pushed for parity in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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