Minnesota counties failed to implement early engagement mental health law

Two recent cases of mental illness leading to violence have many people wondering what can be done to prevent them.

Last week, police said a man shot an officer in the face and sprayed a neighborhood with bullets in Roseville.

Last month, Bloomington police said another man stabbed his girlfriend and set her on fire, before setting his own house on fire.

Both seem to have had a serious mental illness and needed help long before each escalated to a violent end. But getting an adult civilly engaged is a very high standard.

“Somebody almost has to be a danger to themselves or others, which is a pretty high standard and rightly so because you’re taking away someone’s rights,” said Sue Abderholden of the National Association. for the mentally ill at FOX 9.

RELATED: Roseville shooting: mental disorders detailed in police reports

Abderholden says not enough is being done to help before someone gets hurt.

“Right now, if you were to send a mobile mental health crisis team, and they spoke to the person and said you wanted treatment voluntarily and they said no, they would go,” said she declared.

But in 2020, she says the legislature expanded the recognizance law to include early engagement, but no county in Minnesota has implemented it.

“Under this law, they can keep coming back for 90 days to really try to engage that person in treatment,” Aberholden said.

The law legally gives a mental health specialist more time. If the person says no once or ten times to the treatment, the specialist can keep trying to help them for 90 days. In addition to the treatment conversation, the checkup would also ensure that the person with mental illness is enrolled in benefits such as a therapist, housing or food.

It’s a 90-day check-up to improve a life, or maybe save one.

“I really think it could work, but it depends on the counties,” Aberholden said. “The counties can decide whether to do it or not and at the moment no one is really doing it.”

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