April 23, 2014

State senator says Nebraska must address juvenile mental illness

Sen. Amanda McGill/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Office

Sen. Amanda McGill/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Office

A state senator says there needs to be an attitude shift on mental illness if Nebraska is to address the problem of juvenile delinquency.

Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln says Nebraska can learn by the strides other states have made.

“There’s still a lot to learn about what mental health care should look like, integrated into that primary care setting. And, that’s the way we’re going,” McGill tells Capitol reporters. “It’s part of a growing national debate, but it also goes along with that attitude shift of people not being ashamed of mental health issues either in themselves or in their children and seeking out the right supports.”

McGill is one of the state senators looking into ways to move Nebraska away from the incarceration of juveniles to treatment. She proposes creating a pilot program specifically addressing mental illness among the state’s youth.

McGill says that not only is treatment needed, but more professionals are needed to offer the treatment.

“And it also means creating the workforce so that when people are seeking out that help that they’re getting quality therapist helping them, quality educated doctors who can make the right prescriptions or send them to therapy as opposed to a prescription,” according to McGill.

McGill says Nebraska also needs to study the work other states are doing in treatment mental illness among the young.