Reynolds Witnesses Mental Health Bill Signing

Reynolds Witnesses Mental Health Bill SigningErnest Reynolds was one of a delegation who attended Governor Granholm’s signing of the new Psychiatric Advance Directive bill on January 6, 2005. He was part of a delegation of four from Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services (MPAS) who braved a snowstorm to be present.

Ernie commented, “I was able to meet and talk with the Governor and actually shook hands two times and she was very gracious. Gov. Granholm gave each of us a personally signed copy of the bill. It’s a nice souvenir of the occasion.”

Ernie was recently appointed to the MPAS Board of Directors and is chair of MPAS’s PAIMI Council (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness). He is also chairperson of the Consumer Advocacy Council of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health (CMH) and is the director of the Houghton Lake Chat Room Drop-in Center, which is a haven for people with mental health issues to go and experience life, make friends, socialize, go on outings, and help each other. Ernie is also a certified Advocate for people with mental illness.

Ernie related that the bill signing was a good opportunity to advocate for others with mental health issues. “When I shook the Governor’s hand I made a point to tell her I was a consumer and that I appreciated all her work on this bill. I also told her that we appreciated it that she did not want to cut any funds for mental illness issues. The Governor was very gracious and warm to all of us. It was a good time to meet with all the officials and have a chance to ask them questions and find out how they felt about some issues directly affecting us consumers.”

The new legislation which Ernie witnessed signing allows people over age 18 to name an advocate to exercise powers regarding mental health decisions. It formalizes the role of patient advocate for those who are mentally ill and sets guidelines for practitioners to follow when advocates are appointed.

Senate Bills 1464-1472 (passed the State House and Senate unanimously) amend the State’s Mental Health Code and allow individuals to create Psychiatric Advance Directives – or statements regarding the patient’s desire for mental health treatment. Under the law, mental health professionals would have to comply with the patient advocate directives unless treatment is not consistent with generally accepted mental health best practices. Mental health services received from the private sector also are bound by these designations.

Gov. Granholm said, “These laws put mental health decision-making into the hands of advocates who can operate in the best interest of a family member or loved one. For the first time, patient advocates can make formal decisions regarding mental health treatment… a crucial step in ensuring that an individual’s wishes are considered when undergoing mental health treatment in Michigan.”

According to Greg Paffhouse, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Lakes CMH, “Although we have some concerns regarding some implementation issues and about anticipated cost increases without additional funding, overall we are supportive of this legislation. It is based on the right of a consumer to choose if he or she wants to designate a patient advocate and a consumer’s right to provide, in advance, his or her desires for mental health treatment when unable to participate in medical treatment decisions. We see this as an extension of the person centered planning process and believe it will be helpful for consumers who choose to develop their own advanced psychiatric directive.”

“We are very pleased that Ernie Reynolds had the opportunity to witness the signing of this bill. He has been a very valuable member of our Consumer Advocacy Council and instrumental in the success of the Houghton Lake Chat Room in providing a safe place for people with mental illness to go for support and friendship. We appreciate his efforts in advocating for others in our local area and beyond.”


Posted January 18, 2005

For more information contact:
Greg Paffhouse, CEO
Northern Lakes Community Mental Health
105 Hall St, Suite A
Traverse City MI 49684
(231) 922-4850 or (231) 775-3463

Ernest Reynolds, Director
Houghton Lake Chat Room
P.O. Box 294
Houghton Lake MI 48630
(989) 422-4476