EDITORIAL: Addressing mental health with urgency

Plenty of government bodies can be criticized, justifiably, as unresponsive. The Behavioral Health and Wellness Council isn’t one of them.

The panel, established by Gov. Brian Sandoval to address the shameful deficiencies in Nevada’s mental health system, met Monday and Tuesday in Las Vegas. Talks focused on the region’s current crisis: the large numbers of mentally ill who are packing valley emergency rooms.

The problem is too severe to be left to the 2015 Legislature. As reported by the Review-Journal’s Yesenia Amaro, the council is acting with urgency in formulating a plan to expand community triage centers and increase the number of inpatient psychiatric beds at private hospitals. Mike Willden, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, could have a proposal to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee by June.

Good. Hospital ERs are greatly compromised by having to take in patients they aren’t capable of helping. We still have hope that state officials and Nevada’s congressional delegation can undo the Washington-ordered closure of the outpatient clinic at the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, which was created specifically to keep the mentally ill out of ERs. Until then, the council should keep pushing — and be ready to throw the kitchen sink at the mental health crisis if it will help.

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