LANSING, MI – Significant progress was made in 2014 to improve the lives of citizens facing mental health issues, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities, according to a new report issued on January 27th, 2015, by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on behalf of the Mental Health and Wellness Commission.
“We now have a strong road map to improve the lives and outcomes for individuals as we continue our focus on mental wellness,” Calley said. “Although we’ve made progress, the work to better foster independence, self-determination and quality of life for all residents is far from complete.”
Gov. Rick Snyder created the commission by executive order in Feb. 2013 to address gaps in the delivery of mental health services. Snyder appointed Calley to chair this effort with Michigan Department of Community Health Director Nick Lyon, state Sen. Rebekah Warren, former state Sen. Bruce Caswell and former state Reps. Matt Lori and Phil Cavanagh. The commission has now completed its duty and further efforts will be led by MDCH.
Achievements in 2014 include:
- Substance use credentialing: Credentialing standards are now streamlined across all state departments to improve the coordination of care in the state (Public Act 249 of 2014)
- Care coordination: Michigan Health Information Network now supports care coordination statewide in both physical and behavioral health settings (PA 129 of 2014)
- Deaf and hard of hearing issues: The Department of Civil Rights will continue to lead the state on issues affecting people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- “R-Word”: The offensive and hurtful phrase “mental retardation” has now been removed from state statutes. (Bill signing- March 28, 2014).
- Pure Michigan marketing: Recommendations were provided to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on how to include families with disabilities in Pure Michigan marketing materials.
- Special education funding flexibility: Schools can now use at-risk funds for mental health purposes (PA 196 of 2014).
- Autism Council priorities: The Autism Council has committed to making public school educational mental health and developmental disability support services a priority.
- Employment directive: Snyder signed an executive directive encouraging the creation of policies that would make state government more welcoming for people with disabilities.
- Interagency Council on Homelessness creation: The Interagency Council on Homelessness was created to provide statewide planning and development resources for homeless Michiganders.
- Veterans Trust Fund expansion: Mental health care is now an allowable expense under the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund.
- “No wrong door” policy for veterans: Pilot programs are underway to ensure veterans have full access to mental health services in Battle Creek and Ann Arbor.
- Diversion Council expansion to help juveniles: Expansion of the Mental Health Diversion Council to find better ways to help deal with the relationship between mental health issues and juvenile justice.
- Scope of the commission: The commission oversaw implementation of recommendations from 2013 to 2014. The Michigan Department of Community Health will now oversee future reforms.
- Transportation improvements: The Commission worked with transportation groups to ensure the needs of Michiganders facing mental health issues, developmental disabilities or substance use disorders are taken into consideration.
In addition, $14.3 million was allocated as part of the 2014-2015 budget to set in place 25 additional recommendations for those facing mental health and developmental disabilities. These recommendations include stigma reduction efforts, streamlining statewide screening processes and expanding child health centers in underserved areas.