A local lawmaker’s mental health legislation is now state law.

State Rep. Hank Vaupel’s Bill 5810, now Public Act 593 of 2018, updates and improves Michigan’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment Law. Known as Kevin’s Law, it was named for U of M graduate student, Kevin Heisinger, who was murdered by a paranoid schizophrenic who stopped taking his medication. The assailant’s family tried for days to get him help, but had no legal way to do so. Kevin’s Law was intended to be a pre-emptive option for patients who need assistance, but had been underutilized. Vaupel’s legislation ensures mental illness is addressed earlier to prevent homelessness, dangerous behavior and incarceration.

Vaupel, who chaired the House Health Policy Committee last term, said that, “Early intervention is not only better for individuals in crisis, it also reduces the state’s hospital and incarceration costs, saving Michigan taxpayer dollars.” Several other mental health bills were signed into law at the end of December as a result of the House C.A.R.E.S. Mental Health Task Force, which Vaupel co-chaired last term. They include laws allowing guardians to provide consent for mental health treatment and creating a statewide database of available inpatient psychiatric beds to ensure every person experiencing mental health crisis has a place to go when seeking treatment.

Vaupel says he’s proud of what the task force and the Health Policy Committee were able to accomplish over the past two years, and is optimistic about the work they will continue to do throughout the 2019-2020 legislative term. (JK)