News & Press

Community Wellness: 'Kevin's Law' a tool to help families

January 22, 2017

Families who may be trying to encourage their family members to get mental health treatment now have a tool to simplify the process.

By Robert Lathers, LMSW/CEO, The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness


Late last year, Michigan legislators passed revisions to what is known as "Kevin's Law," a package of bills signed into law in 2005. Kevin's Law was intended to provide access to treatment methods other than hospitalization, but it was rarely used because it was confusing.

The revisions, signed into law in mid-November by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, do several things:

· Expand the availability of assisted outpatient mental health treatment,

· Simplify the process for seeking court-ordered outpatient treatment,

· Allow a family member to petition for treatment earlier, and to receive it more quickly, before their loved one is in a crisis that could lead to them harming themselves or others.

Under the original Kevin's Law, the court had to be convinced by a person's behavior that they were a danger to themselves or others. Now, the court can require treatment for the individual if, because of their mental illness, they don't understand they need treatment - creating a risk of future harm. Backers of the legislation also believe getting treatment earlier will cut down on the need for, and expense of, inpatient hospitalization.

The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness serves 2,500 community members each year. Most of our services are voluntary. We prefer to encourage individuals to seek help, and we will go to meet them if they agree to treatment. But Kevin's Law, as revised, will provide a tool that is more usable for people like you and me who may have a family member with a serious mental illness, one that severely impacts their daily life, and who really needs help but refuses to seek out that help.

Whether you call us directly, or make use of Kevin's Law, the important thing is to get your loved one the help they need for mental illness. As with any serious illness, the sooner intervention and treatment are sought, the better the long-term outcome.


Robert Lathers, LMSW, is the CEO of The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness, formerly Ionia County Community Mental Health. His email address is He welcomes your comments and questions. If you have a mental health emergency, call 911 or our 24-hour crisis line at 1-888- 527-1790. Visit The Right Door online at and find us on Facebook. The Right Door in Ionia is now open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.