State Rep. Brad Paquette recently voted in support of two House measures aimed at further improving Michigan’s broken mental and behavioral health care system.
House Bill 4051, establishes a permanent, statewide, round-the-clock mental health hotline to connect people in need with vital support services. Operators will immediately refer individuals to local services with appropriate care providers to address concerns.
“There are too many people experiencing mental health challenges who don’t know where to turn,” said Rep. Paquette, of Niles. “This plan is a solution for those people – I believe this has the potential to save lives.”
Additionally, House Bill 4156, supported by Rep. Paquette, was created to combat the state’s shortage of state behavioral health workers. The plan allows retired psychiatric professionals to return to work without losing their pension benefits.
“People across Michigan are forced to wait longer than they should to be seen by a mental health care professional because of serious staffing shortages,” Rep. Paquette said. “This plan encourages experienced, qualified employees to return to work to help during this time of need.”
The state already allows retired psychiatrists to continue to keep their pensions during reemployment with the state. Rep. Paquette said he believes the state should extend that same opportunity to other mental health care professionals such as physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, counselors and therapists to combat serious shortages in such roles.
Both measures were inspired by the work of the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force, which aimed to find ways to improve Michigan’s mental health system by listening to mental health experts, families of patients and law enforcement officials.
Both measures were approved with overwhelming, bipartisan support in the House and now move to the Senate for further consideration.