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Our View: Mental health answers require cooperation

As the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health delivered it's recommendations this week, local officials were already looking for their own answers to what many have called a crisis, both locally and statewide.

More than 200,000 adults and 75,000 children in Minnesota live with mental illness, and many struggle with finding services to fit their needs.

During this week's Olmsted County Board meeting, Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden provided a list of ongoing local efforts, from working with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to potentially access federal funding to combined efforts of local agencies seeking to address housing and program needs.

During the same meeting, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem highlighted the local need for acute care, noting it's burden on the judicial system.

"We need a third option other than the emergency room and adult detention center," he said, noting his staff has been working with county public health and social services to find potential options.


Kiscaden noted one piece of the puzzle was found earlier this month when the county signed an outreach services agreement with Mayo Clinic to create new connections. Under the agreement, Mayo Clinic psychiatrists will help provide emergency services and support county staff.

Olmsted County Community Services Director Paul Fleissner said the new agreement stems from county commissioners earlier support of obtaining a psychiatrist for Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center. As a result, services for patients needed fast, local response is growing.

As local efforts continue, we hope to see similar benefits increase.

The governor's task force has offered possible solutions to fill gaps and address the state's increasing need for mental health services, and it will be interesting to see how lawmakers respond.

At the same time, it's the local efforts that will put the county in a better position to take advantage of new opportunities and ensure all residents' needs are considered.

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