Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Children's Mental Health

One of the good things that happened during this past session of the legislature is the funding of the I-90 Children's Mental Health project. These funds will help counties in southern Minnesota meet the needs of children. It is sad to say that each year, we have more children that need help with mental health problems. In Nicollet County we have seen the number increase from 25 open cases in 1997 to 63 open cases today. It should be noted that there may be more than one child included in a case. Nicollet county currently has 37 children in out of home placement and that is not good. Out of home placements are made for a number of reasons and it is estimated that six to eight of the 37 are placed because of mental health.

Psychiatric treatment is hard to come by in rural areas. There is a shortage of psychiatrists in general and severe shortage in doctors trained to deal with children. Also the county case workers have to place children in facilities as far away as Grand Rapids and Duluth. This means costly visits paid for my the county as the case workers need to visit at least once a month. Some other facilities are in St. Cloud, the Metro area, Owatonna, or Hutchinson. None are very close by. Families too, are stretched to the limits as they attempt to keep some semblance of family life while one of the children is in placement. Unfortunately, Nicollet County staff do not see a leveling off or decrease in these trends. end

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