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New Michigan Law Requires More Mental Health Services

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LANSING (AP) - Legislation has been signed into law to offer more treatment options in Michigan for people with mental illness, including those who are jailed or at risk of being imprisoned.

One of the bills signed Thursday by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley requires county law enforcement and community mental health service programs to work with courts and other organizations on taking steps to provide treatment and assistance to people with mental illness.

“It is important for communities to come together and create a plan for providing individuals with mental illness the services and treatments they need,” Calley said in a statement. “The policies and practices created have the potential to yield more effective long-term solutions that are also more cost-effective for taxpayers.”

Specifically, policies and practices would focus on people considered at risk of entering the criminal justice system; those not receiving needed mental health services in a county jail; and those not receiving services upon release or discharge from a county jail.

Calley’s office says they also would focus on those at risk of being committed to the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“Through treatment, we can help those with mental illness overcome underlying problems, which may reduce recidivism and help them to lead better lives,” Calley said. It’s a comprehensive form of smart justice that will make Michigan healthier and safer.”

Another bill grants funding flexibility for local community mental health service programs to provide mental health services to jail inmates. The bills were sponsored by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and are now Public Acts 28 and 29 of 2014.

Calley is the chairman of the Mental Health Diversion Council, which is housed within the Department of Community Health, as well as the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission. The council has adopted an action plan to ensure people with mental illness get treatment.

In December, Calley signed legislation to expand Michigan’s mental health court program. That effort is focused on reducing the number of people in the state with serious mental health or substance abuse disorders who commit subsequent crimes.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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