Panel to examine issues affecting state’s most vulnerable residents
State Reps. Hank Vaupel and Klint Kesto will lead a Michigan House task force to explore ways to enable Michigan residents facing mental health challenges to live happier, healthier and more independent lives, Speaker Tom Leonard announced today.
Leonard appointed Vaupel and Kesto to co-chair the House C.A.R.E.S. task force, named for the key elements the panel hopes to address in order to support vulnerable citizens: Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety.
“We’re taking a comprehensive approach to address challenges vulnerable people face each and every day,” said Vaupel, R-Fowlerville, chair of the House Health Policy Committee. “This could include veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, victims whose lives are forever altered by traumatic crimes or prisoners who struggle with underlying mental disorders. We want to hear from anyone who struggles to succeed due to inadequate access to mental health care or confusing regulations.”
The task force will hold public meetings during July and August to receive input from individuals and professionals around the state. Additionally, the task force will tour facilities to gain a better understanding of programs already available. Current plans include visits to Meridian Health in Detroit, which offers government health plans, and a state mental health care facility.
“Holding meetings and visiting facilities all across Michigan will allow us to gather feedback on a wide variety of topics related to mental health care, rehabilitation programs and vocational training,” said Kesto, R-Commerce Township, chair of the House Law and Justice Committee. “I’m looking forward to learning about programs that are successful and, perhaps more importantly, the programs that aren’t so successful so we can work on fixing the problems.”
The information gathered will help develop reforms that result in more consistency in mental health services across the state, better support for our veterans, additional attention to substance abuse, improvements to mental health courts, enhanced training for law enforcement, and any other ideas brought forward.
Other members of the task force include Reps. Dr. Edward Canfield (R-Sebewaing), Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit), Vanessa Guerra (D-Bridgeport), Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Robert Kosowski (D-Westland), David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids), Dave Pagel (R-Berrien Springs), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Jason Wentworth (R-Clare), Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) and Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park).
Dates and locations of task force meetings will be announced shortly.