The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 5, 2013

Mental health, addiction bills advance in state Senate



The largest is $9.2 million to pay counselors to bring their practice into schools. Virtually every child can get to school; many fewer parents can afford to take time off work to get their child to a clinic.

The governor has also supported expanding these so-called “school-linked” mental health grants, though his appropriation is less than half of Sheran’s. As she did in a previous committee, Rosen noted that no schools in the Mankato region hosted counselors. The program works by enlisting counselors to apply for the grants, but no counselors applied in this region, Sheran said. There is a scarcity of child therapists, she said, even in cities of Mankato’s size.

Another one of her bills would expand an early-intervention program for families that are reviewed for abuse and neglect. It would benefit families that have been the target of a child abuse claim where county workers decided the level of abuse or neglect did not warrant further investigation. In other words, it aims to identify families with problems before they rise to the level of serious abuse or neglect.

It would expand the $1.75 million program to about $4 million.

Each of Sheran’s three bills has several components. Here is a sampling:

n Giving families with emotionally disturbed children some time to relax ($1 million)

n Mental health crisis services teams would assist families ($3.5 million)

n Training for teachers, police officers and others in how to deal with someone in a mental health crisis ($45,000)

All three bills were passed for “possible” inclusion in the final health and human services bill. In coming weeks, Sheran will work with party leaders in the hopes that at least some of her bills make it in the final version.


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