State House Forms Mental Health Task Force to Fix ‘Archaic’ System

Late last year, state House Speaker Tom Leonard said a mental health overhaul was one of his top priorities.

Jake Neher/WDET

State lawmakers have formed a task force to look for ways to improve mental health treatment in Michigan. It’s called the House C.A.R.E.S task force. C.A.R.E.S stands for Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety.

The committee was formed by state House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-Dewitt). Late last year, Leonard said a mental health overhaul was one of his top priorities.

Now he has appointed over a dozen state lawmakers to serve on the bipartisan task force.

“We continue to do modest changes that are good, yes, but we should be better than that,” said task force co-chair Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp). “We should do great.”

The task force will first learn more about the current system of mental health – including availability and affordability. The plan is to then come up with ways to improve the system.

Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) is on the committee. He says the biggest goal is to learn about what is working and not working.

“That to me, if we get an understanding there, then we can sit down and have a conversation collectively about how to move forward in the best way,” he said.

Some mental health advocacy groups applaud the move.

Elmer Cerano is the executive director of Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. He says the current mental health system is archaic. He hopes the state will fix it.

“That we not just do more planning, talking, planning, talking, planning, talking,” he said. “That we really say ‘we’re serious about fixing the system.’”

The task force will start by listening to public comment and touring mental health facilities this summer.


  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.