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Rep. Dave Pagel joins call for better state mental health services

Niles Daily Star - 1/19/2018

State Rep. Dave Pagel, of Oronoko Township, joined his fellow legislators this week in supporting the findings of the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force Report to improve specialized mental health, veteran and substance abuse services across Michigan.

"This is an opportunity to address an issue that touches virtually every person across our state," said Pagel, who served on the bipartisan task force. "Our mission was addressing a problem that is not one-size-fits-all as it can affect a family member, a neighbor who is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder or a friend with severe addiction issues. We heard from a lot of organizations and individuals, so now it's up to us to develop policy and legislation that will help Michigan as a whole."

The House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force was initiated with a focus on five key elements: community, access, resources, education and safety (C.A.R.E.S.) to explore which programs were successful and where vulnerable residents are lacking in care and resources. The panel held over a dozen public meetings and site visits across Michigan in July to October 2017.

"What has been especially concerning is certain portions of our state, including southwest Michigan, have a strong need for better services," Pagel said. "We have numerous dedicated professionals and programs, but we must have better organization, improved resources, and increased cooperation across county and regional boundaries. Our citizens have a need for better access and this report emphasizes that in multiple areas."

As chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections for three years, Pagel also emphasized that inmates with mental health issues require significant financial resources.

"We have a significant percentage of prisoners with mental health issues," Pagel said. "We must give our best efforts to identify and treat these inmates to better prepare them for success upon release. We must also recognize that earlier intervention for mental health issues, before a person enters the criminal justice system, is a much better option for society"

The full report is available to review at house.mi.gov/CARES.

 
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