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Senjem Outlines Bill to Address Lack of Mental Health Resources

February 13, 2018 06:32 PM

(ABC 6 News) –  On Tuesday, Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, shed some light on a bill he plans to introduce this legislative session that he said will help those who often suffer in silence.

Senjem said the $80 million initiative will keep mental health from getting swept under the rug.

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"This legislation which we're talking about today is intended to provide crisis centers across Minnesota. Six of them initially, as well as what we call behavior health centers. Probably three or four initially," Senjem said.

The centers would provide immediate or long-term help for those who already have a hard time as it is because of mental illness. 

Those like Courtney Lawson, who struggled with mental health symptoms for about a decade before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

 "I got lucky to not be involved in the criminal justice system. I got lucky to not get seriously injured. I got lucky to have the mean in terms of knowing where to access care and having insurance to do so,” said Lawson.  

Senjem said stories like Lawson’s are happening too often and are the reason behind the bill he’s proposing.  

"We have a crisis across Minnesota relative to how we manage mental illness. And all too often that's in jails, it's emergency rooms -- places that are really not equipped and inappropriate to handle a mentally ill patient,” Senjem said. 

Senjem added its a personal endeavor, having helped family members struggling with mental health, "I’ve lived this stuff. And it wasn't easy, but it at least seems for me to be a calling." 

And he’s using that experience to help those not as lucky as Lawson. 

"It was difficult for me to accept but it was also a relief because I could start treatment and I had some explanation for some of the things that had happened before in my life,” said Lawson.


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Roxanne Elias

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