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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Mental health care and MN's facility crunch

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024   

Human services leaders say Minnesota is in a mental-health crisis, complicating efforts to manage behavioral health facilities.

Closure plans for certain locations have been avoided, but staff want comprehensive improvements to the care system.

The Department of Human Services recently floated plans to close two addiction treatment centers, and repurpose one of them for more patients with serious mental-health needs.

New funding will keep one building open, but the other will still be revamped for patients who are there by court order.

Lynn Butcher, who works for one of the DHS programs as a quality officer for forensic mental health services out of St. Peter, said she feels there are solutions that aren't being emphasized.

"What's happening right now is, people are not getting an early intervention," said Butcher, "they're not getting the support that they need, and they end up into our jail system."

She said those patient needs are putting more pressure on the broader system, creating these facility debates, along with safety and quality of care concerns for staff.

Butcher said bolstering early intervention programs, such as school counseling, could help.

DHS officials say they understand these concerns, but must to respond to an urgent need with limited options.

Butcher, who is also a member of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, said she worries about worsening staff turnover if some workers are shifted from their current roles.

"People go into this work because it's the work they want to do," said Butcher. "And it's one thing to provide substance use treatment to folks who need it - it's another to, you know, work with mentally ill and dangerous people."

The department describes the current approach as a short-term solution to a long-term problem, noting the Legislature is calling on the agency to explore how it can strengthen addiction care down the road.

A report is due by mid-January of next year.



Disclosure: Minnesota Association of Professional Employees contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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