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Key progress being made with increased commitment to mental health issues in Michigan

Thursday, July 10, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has made great strides in improving how mental health and wellness issues are handled since a special commission created by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013 released its recommendations in January. That Executive Order and commission resulted from a special message on health and wellness the governor presented in the fall of 2011.

“Mental health and wellness is such an important part of overall physical health,” Snyder said. “I commend the leadership and efforts of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Michigan Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman, the Commission members, and so many others who have come together to tackle this critical health issue. Michigan’s commitment is strong and we are making important progress.”

The Mental Health and Wellness Commission, chaired by Calley, outlined the first steps in a long-term road map of actionable recommendations that will improve the health outcome for many Michiganders.

“Improving how we handle mental health issues in our state isn’t an overnight process but we’re making progress every day,” said Calley. “I’m pleased the Legislature is so supportive of work to bolster mental health and wellness and look forward to further opportunities to improve the quality of life for those affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use disorders.”

Swift action was taken by the administration and the Legislature following the commission’s report. The progress in the past six months includes:

  • Changing hurtful, outdated language: A 15-bill package was approved overwhelming by the Legislature removing the phrase “mental retardation” from state statute and instead making respect the new “R-Word.”
  • Cutting red tape: Snyder signed House Bill 5332 which requires state departments use the same substance use credentialing standards in processes, forms and contracts. This reform improves coordination of care throughout the state for the delivery of substance use disorder services.
  • Improving consistency: The report conveyed the need to improve consistency and comprehensiveness of services throughout the state. The passage of House Bill 5136, which was signed by Snyder, endorsed the Michigan Health Information Network to support care-coordination across the boundaries of physical and behavioral health settings. Implementation of this has already begun.
  • Investing in and supporting service delivery improvements: The 2014-2015 state budget includes $14.3 million to begin implementing recommendations within the commission’s report, showing the strong level of commitment by the Legislature and administration to improve the quality of life of Michiganders affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use disorders.
  • Expanding the scope: Recognizing that the work to improve mental health in Michigan is far from complete, Snyder extended the commission’s work through 2015 allowing for the review of additional topics and oversight over the implementation of its recommendations. The council has already begun working on an action plan.

In addition to Calley, the Mental Health and Wellness Commission includes state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor; state Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale; state Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine; state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township; and vice-chair James Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. The group remains committed to creating an environment that fosters independence and promotes self-determination in order to improve the quality of life for those affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use disorders.