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State House forms mental health task force to fix “archaic” system

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State lawmakers have formed a task force to look for ways to improve mental health treatment in Michigan.

It’s called the House C.A.R.E.S task force. C.A.R.E.S stands for Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety.

The committee was formed by House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt. Late last year, Leonard said a mental health overhaul was one of his top priorities.

Now he has appointed over a dozen state lawmakers to serve on the bipartisan task force.

“We continue to do modest changes that are good, yes, but we should be better than that,” said task force co-chair Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township. “We should do great.”

The task force will first learn more about the current system of mental health – including availability and affordability. The plan is to then come up with ways to improve the system.

Representative Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, is on the committee. He says the biggest goal is to learn about what is working and not working.

“That to me, if we get an understanding there, then we can sit down and have a conversation collectively about how to move forward in the best way,” he said.

Some mental health advocacy groups applaud the move.

Elmer Cerano is the executive director of Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. He says the current mental health system is archaic. He hopes the state will fix it.

“That we not just do more planning, talking, planning, talking, planning, talking,” he said. “That we really say ‘we’re serious about fixing the system.’”

The task force will start by listening to public comment and touring mental health facilities this summer.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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