Michigan Osteopathic Association

Michigan Osteopathic Association

Snyder Creates Boards To Review Mental Health System

Volume #52, Report #34, Article #7--Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Governor Rick Snyder announced two new boards charged with recommending improvements to the state's mental health system.
One panel will make recommendations on overall mental health system improvements, while the other will limit its task to keeping those with mental illness or substance abuse problems out of the criminal justice system.

"Mental health is just as important as physical health," Mr. Snyder said in a statement announcing the two boards. "I am pleased to address this critical health care concern, and I look forward to finding solutions to improve education, prevention, treatment of and recovery from mental illnesses."

"Given the priority of mental health in Michigan right now, Governor Snyder's call for a new commission to look at and advise the Department of Community Health on mental health issues is vitally important as we look at the current system and changes going forward," said Community Health Director James Haveman, whose department will house both panels. "We have already begun looking at early intervention care for Michigan children with mental health needs, but we know we need to also look at the continuum of care across a person's lifespan."

The Mental Health and Wellness Commission (EO 2013-6) will have until December 20 to issue recommendations on improving the state's mental health system. The panel will be chaired by Lt. Governor Brian Calley with Mr. Haveman as vice chair. Each of the legislative caucuses will name one member to fill out the panel.

Mr. Calley will also head the Mental Health Diversion Council (EO 2013-7), but that will be filled by 13 other experts in mental health and criminal justice:

  • Lynda Zeller, senior deputy director of DCH's Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration, and Joanne Sheldon, health services administrator for the Department of Corrections, will represent their respective departments;
  • Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, of Macomb, will represent county sheriffs for a term expiring January 30, 2015;
  • Lori Ryland of Battle Creek will represent a Medicaid pre-paid inpatient health plan, Jessica Parks of Potterville will represent the State Court Administrative Office, Risa Coleman of Farmington Hills will represent adult service agencies and providers from a local community mental health service program, Judge Curtis Bell of Kalamazoo will represent the judiciary and Elizabeth Hardwick of Horton will represent community prisoner or jail re-entry, all for terms expiring January 30, 2016;
  • Ronald Schafer of Portland will represent prosecutors, George Strander of Albion will represent court administrators, Timothy Bourgeois of Parchment will represent local law enforcement, Christopher Cooke of Traverse City will represent licensed attorneys with experience in representing individuals with mental illness and Irva Faber-Bermudez of Royal Oak will represent advocates or consumer representatives, all for terms expiring January 30, 2017.

That panel was not given a deadline for its actions. But its charge is to develop plans that will move those with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse problems into treatment programs rather than prison or jail.