The Mental Health Association in Michigan

is the only statewide, non-governmental agency concerned with the broad spectrum of mental illness across all age groups.

February 17, 2021

Letter from Lansing – August 2020

A Note from the President & CEO

This edition of “Letter from Lansing” comes to you at the end of August. Much has transpired over the past almost six months since the state of Michigan took steps to quell the spread of the coronavirus. Schools, colleges, and universities are experiencing challenges as they seek to reopen their doors to allow face-to-face sessions with students. Government is trying to predict what may happen as fall and winter approach and there may be a surge in the numbers of individuals contracting the virus. Michigan has experienced one of the highest death rates in the country among those with coronavirus.

In an article that appeared in the August 25, 2020 edition of Bridge Magazine, it was reported that, “As of Thursday, Michigan had 99,958 cases, a staggering number for a virus first confirmed in the state on March 10. Since then, it has killed more than 6,400 residents and left more than 1 million jobless as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut businesses and schools in an effort to control the virus”. Source The elderly and African Americans have been most negatively impacted by the virus, with “African Americans, who comprise 14 percent of the state population, make up nearly 40 percent of deaths and have a death rate — deaths per 1 million — that at 1,650 is nearly four times higher than it is for white residents (423 per million). (Data for other groups weren’t available.)” (Bridge Magazine, August 25, 2020).

The pandemic has taken its toll upon the mental health and well-being of most Americans. On August 21, 2020, the Kaiser Family Foundation published a report entitled, “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” You can read more on this HHEERREE. According to the brief, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) conducted a tracking poll in mid-July and reports that, “… 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. This is significantly higher than the 32% reported in March, the first time this question was included in KFF polling. Many adults are also reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and wellbeing, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. As the pandemic wears on, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose many people to experiencing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes, such as isolation and job loss.”

MHAM is encouraging policy makers to continue to work toward making mental health care and treatment accessible for all who need it. The long-term consequences of the pandemic on the collective mental health and well-being of Michiganders is difficult to calculate. Based upon the data that is being collected by public policy think tanks like KFF, the negative impact of the coronavirus is being felt by many citizens. The provision of effective and appropriate behavioral health treatment is critical for everyone in Michigan.

To read the full August 2020 newsletter, CLICK HERE