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LETTER: Learn more about mental illness

To the editor:

May is Mental Health Month. Mental illness has many faces. I would challenge you to reach out to your family, friends, neighbors. Chances are someone in that circle deals with a

mental illness on a daily basis.

It is human nature to make light of this subject when convenient, making jokes about it then go to the opposite extreme suggesting everyone who applies for a gun permit get a screening for

mental health issues. I would like to challenge everyone become truly educated on what the term mental illness encompasses and what types of interventions are available, utilized, and what is needed to address ongoing issues regarding lack of services in the West Central Minnesota area.

Current service providers are doing an excellent job, but many individuals are falling through the cracks. Douglas County, along with 86 other counties, has signed a resolution statement of support calling on lawmakers to fund an $80 million state grant to construct six mental health crisis centers to serve the mentally ill and chemically dependent people. The plan would also support funding to build three long-term housing facilities for the mentally ill.

This funding proposal is a direct result of studies that have shown a huge gap in Mental Health Services, especially in rural Minnesota.

Here in Alexandria, we do not hear much about what is going on at the state level regarding services for those with mental health challenges. Considering how the state of mental health truly affects everyone, during May you may be hearing a lot in the news, on the radio regarding how it affects everyone, and what as citizens we can do.

Kelly Burnham

Alexandria, MN