June 2, 2020
Due to their collective concerns about the way the COVID-19 pandemic might negatively impact the state of Michigan’s budget leading to reductions in community mental health funding, six disability rights and behavioral health advocacy organizations sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer and to State Budget Director, Chris Kolb on Monday, June 1, outlining those concerns.
The letter states, “We write about the difficult budget situation Michigan is experiencing. Our hope is Congress provides states with funding that can be used to fill budget holes, and are encouraging our national organizations to advocate for the additional funding. We also know there are no guarantees that the funding will be given in a way that addresses our concerns.” The letter further urges the Governor to make mental health care a priority by saying that, ” the state must prioritize health care and mental health care in making near-term budget decisions. This means preserving Medicaid-funded services and meeting critical General Fund needs. The state must also learn lessons that the pandemic — imposing grave collective trauma on our state – has taught us, and the state must address the structural shortcomings in our health care and mental health systems in the long-run.”
The letter points to data that has appeared in the press that highlights the way that the coronavirus has negatively impacted the mental health of many Americans. “The COVID-19 pandemic has necessarily revealed the cracks in both our privately funded and publicly funded health care and behavioral health care systems. The crisis has demonstrated that we lack a health care system that works for all. Michigan stands out as being the highest state in the country for Twitter references about depression and anxiety (PMLiVE, May 12); Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services has reported in a new study that the pandemic could yield a 32% increase in Michigan suicides (mile, April 27); nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus situation is harming their mental health (Washington Post, May 4); a March 27-29 national poll of 1,062 individuals by McKinsey & Company found high levels of depression/anxiety distress (McKinsey report, 2020); a federal mental health hotline experienced more than a 1,000% increase in April 2020 calls compared to April ’19 (MLive, May 16); children and youth are cut off from mental health care through schools (Detroit Free Press, May 17); the World Health Organization says there is a high prevalence of mental distress in countries across the globe due to the pandemic (CNN, May 14); and the US Census Bureau reports a third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression (Washington Post, May 26).”
For more information, please contact Marianne Huff, President/CEO at 313-641-1109.