Shoring up mental health services

Added January 28th, 2013 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

Since the Newtown school shootings, the League has been asked about mental health funding and services in Michigan.

Here are some of the facts that we have shared related to non-Medicaid funded Community Mental Health services:

  •  Funding was flat over the period FY2004 – FY2009, but in inflation-adjusted dollars,  it was a loss of  $70 million for services.
  •  Budget reductions in fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012 totaling $54 million further reduced service capacity.
  •  Waiting lists increase when funding is reduced as services are focused on emergency and crisis services.
  •  Services may be terminated to individuals or denied to allow focus on those cases deemed to be the most severe or those with an emergency/urgent need.
  •  Funding reductions have resulted in the elimination of programs and services such as school-based prevention.
  •  FY2012 service funding reductions impacted primarily childless adults; the $5.1 million reduction represented service costs for about 1,000 childless adults with serious mental illness.

Non-Medicaid funding is critical because the Mental Health Association of Michigan reports that half of people seeking mental health treatment are not eligible for Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid as required by the Affordable Care Act to a half-million uninsured people in Michigan would help solve this and would bring needed federal dollars to pay for comprehensive treatment.

It’s a wake-up call to policymakers about the deterioration of mental health services in Michigan over the last decade. In his State of the State address, the governor indicated his intent to focus on mental health.

“We need to do better. We started investing in that and we’ve done some good work with mental health courts. But, the issue is, we should be doing more to help people before they show up before a judge. So what I am saying, we need to work together in partnership. We’ll put additional budget resources towards, but we need to partner on coming up with great demonstration budgets on how to engage mental health issues more effectively. And get communities more involved creating more public/private partnerships and take care of people that deserve better attention that will benefit all of us. So, let’s work on mental health.”

We couldn’t agree more.  Now is the time to both restore and invest in comprehensive mental health services for Michigan residents with new funds. Let’s make sure it’s not achieved by reducing other critical programs.

– Jan Hudson

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