Treating mental illness and reducing the stigma that surrounds it is very personal to me. In 1996, when my sons were just four and eight years old, they lost their mother to mental illness. I struggled as a single, grieving father and husband. I experienced firsthand the suffering and hardship a family endures when a loved one suffers and succumbs to mental illness.

 

There is so much more we can do to help our veterans, children, and all of those who suffer from mental illness, beginning with expanding access to critical care, and promoting an understanding of mental illness to remove the stigma that is often attached to it.

 

It’s time to stop whispering about mental health and start shouting our support, and expanding our resources.

 

In an effort to remove the stigma behind mental health disorders and increase access to services and resources I have introduced the following bills:

 

House Bill 4929: is part of the Behavioral Health Reform package that aims to improve access to quality services for behavioral health.

 

The package allows for effective, uniformed service, and greater public accountability on providers as a single entity. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would be solely responsible for the system proposed in this package. Allowing for easier and more direct access and less “red tape” to cut through to obtain services.

 

House Bill 5120: would increase required mental health first aid training and self-care technique training for law enforcement.

 

This bill is intended to equip our officers with the best methods to de-escalate a situation involving someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Additionally, this will teach police officers how to recognize their own mental health crises and provide them tools on how to best manage them. Equipping officers with proper, up-to-date training along with providing them with tools on how to best manage their own mental health needs will result in safer interactions between community members and police officers, putting a stronger focus on community policing.

 

House Bill 5122: would require a school district, intermediate school district, or public-school academy to employ or contract at least 1 school psychologist and 1 school social worker.

 

Presently, many school districts in our state, specifically districts with a higher at-risk student population, lack access to counseling services for students. Ensuring our students have access to mental health professionals during school hours would improve their learning environment and will encourage them utilize various resources while developing healthy behavioral health habits.

 

House Bill 5123: would require mental health first aid training and self-care techniques to correction officers.

 

The bill is meant to make sure our officers recognize when an inmate is coping with a mental health disorder and how best to interact with that individual. Our correctional system is an environment filled with tensions and stress. Self-care techniques will help to equip corrections officers to fight against that stress to prevent it from affecting the way they treat those who are incarcerated. This will allow for safer and more effective interactions.