From: Senator Jeremy Miller

 

Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place during the first week of October each year to draw attention to the millions of Americans who struggle with their mental health every day.

COVID-19 has been difficult on all of us, for obvious reasons. But one significant toll it has taken is on our collective mental health. There have been countless reports and examples of mental health struggles becoming more frequent and more severe. The state’s mental health crisis is an issue we have been addressing head-on for years, but it has taken on extra significance over the last 20 months.

This year, Senate Republicans worked on bipartisan solutions to improve the state’s delivery of mental health service and support in a number of ways.

We know that mental health conditions can interfere with a person’s daily life and activities. It can make it more difficult to maintain a steady job or pay rent or utilities. This year, we provided a supplementary services rate boost of $750 per month in addition to the monthly room and board rate in order to continue to support individuals who are struggling. When folks struggling with mental illness do not have stable housing, they tend to cycle in and out of homelessness, jails, shelters, and hospitals. We are providing support to help individuals living with mental illness, so they can continue or begin their path to recovery and a healthy future.

This year also marked the opening of the new Southeast Regional Crisis Center in Rochester, Minn. As you might recall, this facility is one of six new mental health centers the legislature funded in 2018 that will allow us to provide better treatment for people battling mental health issues or substance abuse disorders. When our friends, neighbors, and family members are in crisis, we help them get back on their feet. For more information, visit www.crisisresponsesoutheastmn.com/SERCC or call 1-844-274-7472. 

We also permanently expanded telehealth access to finally include mental health and substance use disorders. Minnesota has long been a national leader in telehealth delivery. Expanding the program to encompass mental health and substance use disorders will help us treat more people more effectively and efficiently.

Children are especially susceptible to mental health struggles — a concern that has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We provided additional funding to prioritize the mental and behavioral health needs of students and children, including establishing specific individualized treatment plans for children in outpatient services. 

We provided additional funding for School-linked Mental Health Grants, the incredibly successful program that provides support to students where they spend the most time: at school. These treatments increase accessibility for children and youth who lack adequate insurance (or lack insurance altogether), improve outcomes, and help us better identify and treat mental health issues in children.

As always, your feedback is extremely important to me and I encourage you to share your input on the issues being discussed here at the capitol. If you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, please send me an email at sen.jeremy.miller@senate.mn or call my capitol office at 651-296-5649. It’s a great honor to serve as your state senator.