Mental health commission report says resources, better coordination needed

Jan 21, 2014

A state commission that’s looking at an overhaul of mental health services has released a sweeping set of proposals.

Credit Michigan House Republicans

The last big overhaul of the mental health system wrapped up in the early 1990s, when most of the state’s psychiatric hospitals were closed.  

This commission convened by Gov. Rick Snyder found there are still barriers to helping people with mental health issues live productively. 

“By solving problems earlier and being more effective, and helping people reach more independent lives, they’ll have less dependence on the government in the first place,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who led the commission. “So their quality of life goes up and their dependence on the government goes down.”

And Calley says that means taxpayers over the longer term would shoulder less in corrections, welfare, and health care costs.

Mark Reinstein of the Mental Health Association in Michigan says there’s a lot in the report, but one recommendation that stands out is improving services for children.

“That is a vitally important recommendation, ” Reinstein said. "That we start doing some of the same things we’re doing for adults to try to keep them out of jails and prisons, that we try to keep youth with emotional disorders from winding up in juvenile justice because we acted out.”  

You can read the full report here.