FOREST LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — A mental health facility aimed to help children with psychiatric issues is getting some pushback from city leaders in Forest Lake.
The State of Minnesota already has around 700 beds available for children who need psychiatric care, but none are at the level of a new proposal that would be a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility in Forest Lake.
It includes more intensive care where often there is a psychiatrist in house, but it’s a step below an inpatient hospital unit.
The organization NAMI Minnesota, that works with children and adults with mental illnesses, says this level of care is currently only available out of state.
A property in Forest Lake was chosen for the treatment facility because it is near the metro area, but also out in nature.
But at the Feb. 12 Forest Lake City Council meeting, several council members, including the mayor, said they don’t know if it’s the right fit for the property.
Several issues were brought up, including the possibility of compromising affordable housing options.
The executive director of NAMI Minnesota Sue Abderholden says she is concerned the real issue is misunderstanding the children who need care.
“I think there are a lot of misunderstandings,” Abderholden said. “These could be yourself, a neighbor, a coworker or other children that go to school with your children and these are real people that are just looking for treatment and support.”
Forest Lake city council woman Mara Bain told WCCO that despite the comments in that Feb. 12 meeting, that the issue is a zoning code. She said before the council can discuss a vote on the treatment center, they have to vote on changing a city wide zoning code that does not allow housing more than 10 individuals in a licensed facility.
She said they will vote on that code on Monday.