2013 session a banner year for mental health issues
Sept. 7, I was fortunate to be the keynote speaker for Rural Wellness Conference sponsored by the group Wellness in the Woods that focused on mental health issues.
I congratulate Wellness in the Woods for this great accomplishment. Organizers had said it was their dream come true to sponsor a conference in Greater Minnesota about wellness and emphasizing mental health. This was a fantastic conference and one I hope continues in the future.
We know mental health and mental illness are serious issues in our state and country. Helping people with mental illnesses control and manage their conditions makes sense. It makes fiscal-sense, economic-sense — the economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion each year in the United States — and it’s the right thing to do. Providing support for people with mental illnesses is important in education, can help prevent homelessness and can help people climb out of poverty.
With that said, the 2013 session was a banner year for mental health. We expanded Medical Assistance for low-income Minnesotans, established family peer specialists, improved the teacher training law, added case management for youth, increased funding for school-linked mental health grants, funded mental health first aid training, added mental health education for youth, increased the safe-school levy, increased funding for housing programs for the mentally ill and homeless, and increased funding for mental health providers.
But our work is not done. We can’t reverse years of cuts and right the ship in one session. These accomplishments made an impact, but we need everyone working together to move forward again.
I thank Wellness in the Woods for the opportunity to speak at the conference and congratulate them again for their work. I look forward to working with them and my constituents in the future on this important issue.
Rep. John Ward,
DFL-Baxter, District 10A