Rep. Whiteford legislation seeks to aid mental health patients quickly, before it’s too late

Categories: Whiteford News

Bill inspired by C.A.R.E.S. Task Force panelists

A bill introduced by state Rep. Mary Whiteford to ensure every person experiencing a mental health crisis has a place to go, was approved today by the Michigan House of Representatives.

Whiteford’s bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and maintain a state database containing information about the number and location of available psychiatric beds and make the database accessible to the appropriate health care facilities and providers.

The legislator was a member of the House C.A.R.E.S. mental health task force, and says this is a common-sense solution to a serious problem across the state, which she and her colleagues heard about many times during the months the task force spent listening to mental health professionals last year.

“Many times, we’ve learned, there are not enough psychiatric beds available to provide individuals in a state of mental health crisis with the care they desperately need,” said Whiteford, of Casco Township. “A psychiatric hospital should be a safe place where patients receive help quickly and efficiently – I believe the development of a psych bed database will help to achieve that.”

Some local officials believe this is a step in the right direction when it comes to preventing individuals from harming themselves or others.

“We all know more needs to be done to improve access to psychiatric care for those experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Graafschap Fire Chief and EMT Doug DenBleyker. “Preventing violent activities from people with mental illness can start with immediate treatment for people who come forward looking for help. This bill goes a long way to prevent individuals with needs from falling through the cracks and to help connect those people with care before it’s too late.”

House Bill 5439 now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

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