Detroit News. November 19, 2022.
Editorial: Gov needs to address mental health
Michigan’s broken mental health system has left those needing help with mental health issues empty-handed.
Decades of divestment and short-term solutions spearheaded by both Republican and Democratic leaders have resulted in a system that is overrun and mismanaged.
Meanwhile, rates of mental illness are skyrocketing, as evidenced by police interactions with mentally disturbed individuals on the streets and in schools. And the mental health consultants on the frontline of the crisis are underpaid and unable to keep up with the workload.
This unrelenting problem should be a priority for Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the legislature in the new term. Fortunately, the governor agrees that mental health is at a critical point, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our mental health system was dismantled four governors ago and we as a state never really addressed it and created the mental health support people need,” Whitmer told the editors of The Detroit News last month.
“I realize there is more good work to be done here,” she said.
That was, of course, true when Whitmer took office four years ago, and she did little to address the issue. This term, her expressed concerns must be followed by action.
Now that her party is in full control of the legislature, she has no excuse not to implement a comprehensive plan to tackle bureaucratic waste and limited access to services, especially for young people, and to fully examine how mental health intersects with crime, school and education safety, and poverty and homelessness.
Some steps to take:
— Streamline the structure of Community Health Boards, which have local control over state-funded treatments and services, as well as those of the 10 regional Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans. Both entities are hampered by bureaucratic inefficiency and lack the flexibility to respond to urgent needs.
— Improve pay and working conditions for the most skilled mental health professionals so they stay where they are needed most: providing personalized care. Too often, those who work in mental health services are not much better off financially than those they serve. “I have mental health workers who come to see clients, and while they’re here, they get diapers and shoes because they can’t afford to take care of their own families,” said Randy Richardville, the former Republican Senate majority leader and executive director. from Oaks or Righteousness Village in Monroe.
— Ramping up services in rural areas that have become mental health deserts, without consistent services for those in need.
— Make community mental health systems more accountable and efficient. It would help to create common medical records for providers and standardize services. “It is clear that more can and should be done in the existing public health system to reduce administrative overhead and redirect it to service – not profit,” said Tom Watkins, a former director of mental health services.
— Open more long-term and short-term mental health facilities that can take in the homeless and those who might otherwise end up in prison.
The consequences of neglecting mental health are becoming increasingly public. Clashes between police and the mentally ill have turned deadly. Police forces are the default agencies for dealing with mentally unstable people. People who should be in medical treatment facilities too often end up in prisons that are not equipped to treat or house them.
Detroit Police Chief James White is calling it an ongoing “mental health crisis,” as are sheriffs and law enforcement agencies across the state.
Detroit police officers are responding to an average of 64 mental health runs per day this year — more than three times as many mental health-related 911 calls as in 2020, according to data from DPD.
Whitmer pointed to her investments in adding school mental health counselors and social workers to the state’s roster, but there just aren’t enough of them. In schools, mental health is the #1 behavioral problem. Rates of depression and suicidal ideation among children and teens have risen sharply since the COVID pandemic.
The governor says building more youth psychiatric facilities is a priority. That’s important, considering how ill-equipped some foster homes are to handle those in the care of the state.
The need for leadership on an issue that affects so many Michigan residents has never been more apparent. Whitmer and the new legislature should address this on day one.
Traverse City Record Eagle. November 16, 2022.
Editorial: Winter is a skill that needs to be honed
We knew it couldn’t last.
Still, we tucked our hopes into those 70-degree days, another cookout, another walk in sneakers, one last boat ride, as if the November balm were never-ending.
But of course the mercury was dropping faster than those ill-fated turkeys in Cincinnati, and no one will be wearing shorts this Thanksgiving.
When the weather turns, it takes a minute to dig our wintry selves out of the back shelves behind the sandals and sand buckets. It takes a while to remember where the ice scrapers are, and that frosting isn’t just for donuts. It takes an adjustment to turn our free-running summertime spontaneity into plans for the worst winter ahead.
In that spirit, we offer a few reminders:
Refresh your terms: These words we banned in the warm months are now returning from the National Weather Service, which defines blizzards as sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 mph or more with snow and blowing snow (visibility down to less than a quarter mile during 3 hours or more); snow showers as short, intense snow showers accompanied by strong gusts of wind with intense accumulation; snow showers that fall at varying intensities for short periods with varying accumulation; and flurries like light snow falling for a short time with little or no accumulation. Wind rills can also be listed as warnings and watches when extreme cold is forecast.
Drive slowly on snow and ice: According to Michigan.gov, between the 2016-2020 winter seasons, there were 202,232 accidents in Michigan on icy, snowy, or muddy roads, killing 370 people and seriously injuring 2,530 others.
Prepare, prepare, prepare: Put a few extra items in your car just in case, such as a first aid kit, medications, a shovel, litter or sand for traction, warm clothes, and snacks.
Ice Fun: Do not venture near cracks, holes, or breaks in the ice, ice with running water on the edges, below the surface, or on top, or ice that appears to have thawed and re-frozen. For ice sports, remember that it should be 10 cm or more for ice fishing, skating and walking; a minimum of 5 inches for snowmobiles and ATVs; 8-12 inches for cars and 12-15 inches for medium-duty trucks.
Take it easy: shoulders back, core tight, lift with your legs – the snow shoveling marathon is on and your back and heart have to hold out until the finish.
Check your nest: Fresh furnace filters and humidifiers can improve your quality of life at home, and working carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms may save it.
In January we are pros. We and winter will go hand in hand, through every frost and storm. But dusting off our winter skills is an adjustment, best done slowly and safely.
Iron Mountain daily news. November 16, 2022.
Editorial: State says it checks insurance coverage for deer collisions
With the start of gun hunting season Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is reminding people to review their auto insurance coverage to make sure they know what might be available for damage caused by a deer collision.
While these types of accidents occur year-round, hunting, combined with shorter daylight periods, often increases the number of these accidents, which can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
“Car insurance may not be at the top of your list as we head into the colder months, but this is a good time of year to review your policy so you’re prepared for unexpected mishaps, like hitting a deer with your car, DIFS Director Anita Fox said. “…In most cases you will need to purchase optional coverage, called comprehensive insurance, to cover damage caused by something other than an accident involving another vehicle, so it is important to consider insurance needs and your family’s budget before you incur a potential loss.”
According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, Michigan has about 50,000 reported auto deer accidents each year. About 80% of these accidents happen on two-lane highways between dusk and dawn, especially during the spring and fall hunting season. A recent AAA study reported that Michiganders pay an average of $130 million annually to repair vehicle damage caused by deer collisions.
Vehicle owners should discuss their current auto insurance policy with their licensed insurance agent or company to ensure they are protected against this type of damage. In most cases, optional comprehensive coverage is required. Pays in full if the vehicle is stolen, or for repairs if it is damaged by a falling object, fire, flood, vandalism or collision with an animal.
Some tips what to do after a collision with a deer:
— Drive off the road, turn on the emergency flashers and watch out for other traffic when you get out of the vehicle.
— Report the accident to the nearest police station and your insurance company or agent.
– Document the incident. If it is safe to do so, take photos of the roadway, surrounding area, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries to you or your passengers. If witnesses stop, take their account of what happened and ask for their contact information.
– Don’t approach the deer. Injured animals can be dangerous and an animal that appears dead should only be sedated.
— Do not assume the vehicle is safe to drive. Look out for leaking fluid, loose parts, damaged tires, broken lights, a hood that won’t lock, and other safety hazards. If the vehicle appears unsafe in any way, call for a towing service.
Anyone with questions or concerns about an insurance policy or who would like to make a complaint may contact DIFS Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time at 833-ASK-DIFS (275-3437), or go for complaints online to michigan. gov/DIFS complaints.