Funding For Mental Illness: Sen. Franken's Plan

By KBJR News 1

January 30, 2013 Updated Jan 30, 2013 at 11:51 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Many lawmakers say curbing gun violence goes hand in hand with addressing mental illness at its early stages.

U.S. Senator Al Franken is proposing two federal bills on Thursday that address the demand for people suffering from mental illness, including school children.

The first bill increases access for kids who need counseling and the second ensures that people who enter the criminal justice system do not go for years without treatment.

If passed by Congress, the "Mental Health in Schools Act" would authorize funding for schools and community mental health centers.

Minnesota ranks second to last in the nation for its counselor to student ratio with one counselor for every 780 students.

The goal, Senator Franken says, is to increase the availability for all who need mental health services...including training for family members, school employees, and community members who are in a position to detect early warning signs.

"We really don't have the infrastructure and we need to do that. We need to have mental health professionals in the schools who are at least accessible to the schools, partnering with the schools. And we need to have more counselors," U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn), said.

Senator Franken's "Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act" would also expand the issue of mental health in courts and allow a person with an illness to be diverted to a mental health treatment program or facility.

Justin Reis, NNC.