Gov. Rick Snyder: Mental Health Diversion Council progress report implements strategies to help people, communities
Health agencies, law enforcement working to reduce risk, improve care
Monday, Sept. 8, 2014
LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is taking steps to reduce the number of people with mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities and substance use struggles from entering the corrections system while still maintaining public safety, according to a report issued by the state’s Mental Health Diversion Council.
On Friday, Sept. 5, the council provided Gov. Rick Snyder with an update of its activity, focusing on achievements and looking ahead, recognizing that there is more work to do.
Snyder created the Mental Health Diversion Council in a 2013 executive order, charging the body with creating an action plan outlining goals, strategies and recommendations to help people struggling with mental illness get the help they need without endangering themselves or others.
Chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, the council has made significant progress around screening, assessment and treatment of people with mental illness, and ensuring effective coordination with local partners.
“We’ve made great strides to improve the mental health system and the people it serves, especially in the area of diversion,” Snyder said. “The diversion council’s work and blueprint for moving ahead is vitally important as we continue working to reduce risks while providing care to those in need.”
Working with partners in the Legislature and experts in the field, the council can point to progress in several areas, including:
- Establishing mental health courts that have proven to be an effective tool and efforts to expand those courts are underway.
- Passing legislation – Public Acts 28 and 29 of 2014 -- that maximizes alternatives to jail for people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities.
- Training police officers to deal specifically with the mental health population in the form of Crisis Intervention Training which is a 40-hour regimen addressing how to engage the mentally ill in the field and how best to divert them when possible. A pilot is currently underway in Kalamazoo.
- Helping communities around the state by implementing five pilot programs focusing on innovative ways divert the mentally ill and developmentally disabled from incarceration. Pilots are located in Marquette, St. Joseph and Kalamazoo, along with two in Detroit.
“Mental health is as important as physical health, and we are focused on making sure people get the care they need,” Calley said. “We also recognize that keeping our communities safe is vitally important. The council is dedicated to working with people before there are problems, but also finding ways to improve diversion once they encounter the criminal justice system. I appreciate the dedication and expertise of the council members as we continue this important mission.”
The 18-member diversion council includes representatives from the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Michigan Department of Corrections. Also included are experts from a variety of fields that work with people challenged by mental illness as well as the law enforcement community.
Mental Health Diversion Council report