CMH director updates county board

March 13, 2013

By Lisa Enos

MCP Correspondent

LUDINGTON – West Michigan Community Mental Health Executive Director Rich VandenHuevel addressed the Mason County Board of Commissioners Tuesday about the scope of services provided by the organization — those mandated by the state and some other which are not. One such program is the Fun Squad summer program. WMCMH has partnered with Michigan Works and other agencies to provide a break for families dealing with autistic individuals. The program participants, which includes some teen mentors, receive some skills and meaningful work experience while providing a service to children and adults living with autism.

He spoke of the need for better integrating mental healthcare with physical health, noting that a person with mental health issues on average lives 25 years less than a person without mental health problems. VandenHeuevel stressed the need for better and more accessable mental health services because most people either don’t have insurance or their insurance doesn’t cover mental health until it reaches a point of severity.

VandenHuevel said that WMCMH will soon be joining others in Kent Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon, Lake and Oceana to create a new entity, and called the endeavor, “an opportunity for efficiency,” and asked the board for its support in helping create bylaws.

VandenHuevel said he looks to improve services for children and families, increase and improve collaboration with law enforcement and courts, and increase collaboration with primary care physicians.

On the subject of substance abuse, VandenHeuvel noted that there’s a lot more need for substance abuse prevention and counseling programs. 

“I anticipate the number to go up and I’m sure you’re aware the need is not going down,” he said.

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