State leaders seek improvements for mental health care

Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 at 2:55 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State leaders gathered at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center Tuesday morning for the Louisiana Mental Health Summit.

One of the speakers was Pete Earley, a former reporter for the Washington Post and current author. His son suffers from severe bipolar disorder.

“I can tell you that there are parents in your community who are suffering because they cannot get their kids decent mental health care,” Earley said.

Experts in the medical and law enforcement fields gathered to talk about ways mental health care can be improved in Louisiana.

Senator Bill Cassidy was one of the authors behind legislation in 2016 that gave more money to mental health care nationwide, but now he wants to see more improvements at the local level.

“If there’s nothing local, no one’s bought in. If it’s local, you’ve bought in, and the federal money and the federal training resources just kind of lift that to the top.”

RELATED: Calls growing louder for emergency mental health facility

Baton Rouge voters will have a chance to expand mental health care services in the parish. The December 8 ballot will include a one-point-five mill property tax to build a mental health crisis center, which can serve as an alternative to placing a mentally ill person in jail or in the hospital.

“Why take someone to jail? Why take someone to an emergency room, when the people in the emergency room are at best gonna make him wait and then shove him out the door? What you need is a crisis drop-off center where trained professionals can evaluate someone and link them to the services they need.”

That proposed center is known as the “Bridge Center”

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