What’s it like to be;

The admitting person in the psychiatric ward of a metro hospital turning away violently troubled children because there is no space?  HCMC in Minneapolis averages about 900 emergency psych visits a month, many of them children.

A social worker, grandparent or guardian ad-Litem visiting a traumatized four year old child in the suicide ward of a hospital,

The first grade teacher who called City Counsel member Don Samuels asking what to do about a student trying to kill himself in her classroom,

The parent of a child with tragic mental health problems and turned away from the hospital  or a son held in a cinder block cell for six days because of the no “imminent threat” excuse (when really, there’s just a lack of resources)?

Michael Swanson’s mom who lived years of terror for years trying for to find mental health services for her boy prior to his murdering two Iowa store clerks.

Six year old foster child Kendrea Johnson, who hung herself and left a sad note and the terrible reality that yes indeed, children try and occasionally succeed in killing themselves (contrary to the police and medical examiners Star Tribune statements at the time).

The hospital employees at St. John’s Hospital that were brutally attacked by a delirious patient because their facility did not have the safety features designed to protect staff members from the level of violence often seen in mentally troubled people.

Police Chiefs or the Minnesota Sherriffs who have threatened to sue over failure to provide services to mentally unhealthy people – claiming that the gaping hole in our State’s mental health facilities is turning law enforcement departments into mental health service providers.

How hard must life be for families today because mental health is not a topic of discussion and consequently, a political issue that might be resolved if enough of us talked about it?

After several in person conversations with Jan Callison, Chair of the Hennepin County Commissioners, it appears that until the public demands more attention to children’s well-being and mental health, billions for sports stadiums, public transportation and fallen bridges (the 5 million dollar bridge maintenance failure cost almost 1 billion dollars), legislators will remain tight-fisted when voting for programs or policies that improve access for  people with mental health issues.

This means more Prozac for children, more trouble for schools, law enforcement & public safety.  Is it time to make a phone call or send a note to your State Representative (or County Commissioner) yet?

Hennepin County Commissioners