A special task force, co-chaired by a local lawmaker, is looking ahead to an upcoming community meeting as part of their mission to improve mental health in Michigan.

State Representatives Hank Vaupel of Handy Township and Klint Kesto of Commerce Township co-chair the bi-partisan Michigan House Mental Health task force. The C.A.R.E.S. task force is comprised of seven Republicans and seven Democrats, all of whom are exploring ways to enable Michigan residents facing mental health challenges to live happier, healthier and independent lives. C.A.R.E.S. is an acronym for the key elements the panel hopes to address and stands for Community, Access, Resources, Education, and Safety.

Rep. Vaupel says the task force is trying to look at trends in each area and the barriers residents in those regions face. He says transportation, employment, and housing are all contributing factors. Vaupel says every geographical area has different barriers as well as things that are done right, but the segments aren’t tied together as well as they should be. He says the task force is proactive about delving into this issue and employing the best practices statewide. He feels there is excellent treatment available in the state, but that it is disjointed and patients can fall between the cracks.

The task force held its first meeting earlier this month at the Livingston County Public Safety Complex in Howell. Their next meeting will be held this Thursday at 10am at Hope Network in Grand Rapids. Legislators are encouraging the public to attend and offer input, as it will help them in developing reforms that will provide consistency in mental health services. Residents who cannot attend the meeting can also submit their suggestions regarding mental health care online at the link below. (DK)