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MPAS Response to the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission Report

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On Jan. 21, 2014, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley unveiled Michigan’s Mental Health and Wellness Commission Report. The commission, appointed by Governor Snyder, was made up of the “left of the left” and the “right of the right” on the political spectrum from the Michigan Legislature and chaired by the lieutenant governor himself and vice-chaired by James Haveman, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health respectively.

The commission agreed up front to attempt to overcome political positioning by only including areas of unanimous agreement into the final report. Many of us in the disability community thought this would result in a report that was so watered-down that it would hardly be worth the read. What resulted, however, validated the understanding that disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders do not align with any one political party. The commission members, under the leadership of Lt. Governor Calley agreed on a set of values and guiding principles that promise to set a new and welcomed standard for civility  and honest dialog in addressing the many complex needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

The commission’s report recognizes the intrinsic value of all of Michigan’s citizens and the need for major reform in how supports and services to people we serve must be improved.  It recognizes, among other things, the need to improve coordination between:

  • Education input and employment outcomes
  • Housing options, independent living supports and community inclusion physical and mental health care
  • Concerns for the public’s safety while protecting the rights of people living with disabilities, addictions and mental illness
  • Data collection and measurable outcomes
  • Increasing the availability and quality of treatment while reducing the stigmas associated with seeking and receiving treatment

Here are some of the parts of the report that MPAS finds extremely valuable as a window into the hearts and minds of the commission members;

  • Advancing more opportunities for independence and self-determination for persons living with mental illness substance use disorder or developmental; disabilities.
  • Better access to high quality, coordinated and consistent services and care between agencies, services providers and across geographic boundaries.
  • Measuring outcomes and establishing meaningful metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of services provided and to assess the progress on goals set by the individual, state, locals and service providers.

This report is an extremely promising document constructed and developed through thoughtful consideration by a group of individuals who clearly took the time to understand the issues.  Now let’s get Michigan back to its rightful place as a national leader in providing the supports and services needed by people with disabilities to live, learn, work and play successfully in a responsive and supportive community.

The commission includes Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Department of Community Health Director James Haveman, Sen. Bruce Caswell (R-Hillsdale), Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), Rep. Matt Lori (R-Constantine) and Rep. Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford).

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Posted on:
January 29, 2014