Mental health services

Several bills in the Legislature address the lack of access to mental health services.

Editorial board

 

Earlier this month, several bills that would provide more mental health resources for children in K-12 schools were introduced in the state Legislature. An article in the Feb. 12 Minnesota Daily titled “Legislators push for mental health funding” outlined the efforts of Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, who is working to improve mental health services for schools in the state. She introduced a total of three bills that would work in various ways to improve and expand access of mental health care for children and young adults. One of those ways is to increase the funding for school-linked mental health services, as well as provide more resources for young adults with mental health issues.

While the lack of comprehensive mental health care is something often discussed haphazardly after a tragic mass shooting that makes the national news, the poor availability of mental health care is real and widespread. The Daily article cited a 2005 study in conjunction with the National Institute of Mental Health that “half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and three-quarters have begun by age 24.”

Additionally, according to a 2010 College Health Survey of the Twin Cities campus by Boynton Health Service, roughly a quarter of University students have been diagnosed with a mental illness at one point in their lives.

While it would be ideal if mental health issues could be identified during high school or earlier, the state Legislature should also focus on improving mental health options at the college level.

Despite what often appears as phony rhetoric at the national level, there are indeed significant gaps in America’s mental health access. Sheran’s proposals work to fix many of those gaps at the state level.