Health Commission Could Help Prisons - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Health Commission Could Help Prisons

Governor Rick Snyder issued two executive orders Wednesday with a focus on improving mental health across the state.

The orders call for the creation of a mental health commission that will work with the state health department to find solutions to strengthen health services.

It's an announcement that the department of corrections says could have multiple benefits.

The department of corrections says it's a problem that's been growing for years.

"We've been tracking the number of people who come to prison with mental health issues and right now it's running at about 17%," said Department of Corrections Spokesperson Russ Marlan.

Russ Marlan from Department of Corrections says within the last year alone, roughly 1500 people found themselves behind bars struggling with some degree of mental illness, about 10 percent with serious issues.

Issues that Marlan says unfortunately the department of corrections doesn't have the time or the money to fix.

"Our primary focus has to be on custody and security issues, but there also in the corrections system a very expensive environment to provide mental health treatment," Marlan said.

But Marlan says hopefully the governor's idea to create a mental health and wellness commission will help.

"Most of the county sheriffs we talk to this is a big problem for them as prisoners coming in with mental health issues and the difficulty of treating them in a custody setting," Marlan said.

The commission would work alongside the Department of Community Health which released this statement, "We have already begun looking at early intervention care from Michigan children with mental health needs, but we know we need to also look at the continuum of care across a person's lifespan".

"I think that's what the council the governor created today is going to look at ways to provide that treatment in the community earlier, intervening on issues, before they come to prison," Marlan said.

Which would hopefully lead to less people ending up in prison, instead getting help before it's too late.

It's unclear when the commission will start to make recommendations to the department of community health.

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