"We're building from a system that's not broken by any means but needs a lot of work," said
Dayton convened the task force to examine how the state could improve its ability to respond to residents facing a mental health crisis and how officials could fix a shortage of inpatient beds at mental health facilities across
The task force found
The state faces a shortage of mental health workers throughout its rural areas. South-central
We're not alone -- only southeast
While state officials determine how best to recruit more mental health workers, the task force made nine recommendations for state officials to pursue moving forward. Those recommendations include streamlining the state's county-level mental health system to provide greater access to psychiatrists, counselors and other workers.
The task force also recommends the state offer more cultural outreach to communities of color and provide additional training and funding to organizations -- clinics, nonprofits, law enforcement, etc. -- that deal with mental health crises.
One of the most important recommendations in the report urges the state to push private insurers to cover the same mental health treatments as public options. Federal laws push the same sort of parity between mental health and other kinds of care, but there are still barriers for people accessing mental health care compared to other kinds of medical care -- from differing financial reimbursements to unequal coverage of similar services such as days spent in a hospital after a procedure.
There are more than 200,000 adult Minnesotans suffering from a serious mental illness, according to the
State officials already have praised the task force for its work.
"Too many Minnesotans lack access to the basic mental health care they need," Lt. Gov.
Johnson said he hopes the Legislature tackles several short-term solutions in line with the task force's recommendations during the 2017 legislative session, such as funding for crisis prevention training. He also wants more areas to look into ways to add inpatient beds for those struggling with mental illness.
"I hope that's a priority moving forward," he said.
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