Franken bill would beef up mental health counseling


U.S. Sen. Al Franken is sponsoring a bill that would boost federal mental health programs.

Franken's says strengthening mental health counseling in schools and prisons would improve public safety in America. He says studies show a majority of the country's prison inmates have mental health problems. His bill would support mental health courts that steer criminals who are mentally ill toward treatment.

Franken introduced the bill at an appearance in Duluth. He emphasized the need for counseling in schools and said adding mental health professionals would do more to improve school safety than arming teachers would.

Other provisions in the bill would fund training of police in how to work with mentally ill citizens and would expand treatment courts for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress, depression, or addiction.

Franken puts the cost of the changes at about $40 million. He says a Florida Republican, Richard Nugent, will introduce a companion bill in the House.

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