DULUTH, Minn. -

Mental health and the way we deal with those suffering with mental disabilities have made many headlines recently.

Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth hosted a state-wide task force on mental health earlier today.

The task force was compiled by Governor Mark Dayton, and the meeting addressed the mental health crisis and how it affects healthcare in the state of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) estimates that nearly 700,000 Minnesotans struggle from some form of mental illness.

“We know all too well too many of the stories of our neighbors, of our family and our loved ones who have struggled to gain access to the needed care,” said State Senator Tony Lourey, of District 11.

Sen. Lourey is the chair for the Health and Human Services Budget Division and a member of Dayton’s state-wide task force.

There is also a local task force that says creating a dialog with state leaders is essential in improving their healthcare methods and identifying the major obstacles they are facing.

“The last thing that anybody in St. Paul wants is for them to be an ‘ivory tower,’ which doesn’t relate to anything that’s going on in our local communities,” said Dr. Steve Sutherland, a psychiatrist at Essentia Health.

Dr. Sutherland says one major issue for caring for mental health patients is helping them figure out a way to maintain a new routine once they are out of emergency care.

“Once they’ve stabilized in terms of their condition, how do we help them without undue delays or coordination problems? How do we help them transition to that next level of care? The ongoing care?” Dr. Sutherland explains.

Senator Lourey says this is the first time the task force has had a meeting outside of St. Paul.