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.

April 2, 2021

Letter from Lansing – December 2020

Welcome to the December 2020 edition of MHAM’s monthly newsletter that provides you with public policy updates and other information that impacts the behavioral health care of you and those you love.

This brief edition of “Letter from Lansing” finds us looking forward to the final days of 2020 and looking back at the past 11 months that comprise this past year. As the holidays are here, many of us pause to think about the challenges and the opportunities that have been presented to all of us, individually and collectively. Even though 2020 has been hard, it has also given us a lot of information about the changes that need to be made to systems and structures that have been erected over decades. We know what is wrong with our public and private behavioral health care system in our state. We have known about the problems in the public mental health system, for example, but these problems have defied solutions.

My hope is solutions will be put forth based upon a human-centered design approach and that the adults and children and youth who are the recipients of behavioral health and substance use services will be given a legitimate voice in designing the solutions. Who better to be directors of the creation of something new than those who use whatever is created?

2021 is a blank canvas. Let us do what Oprah Winfrey suggests:“ Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Mental Health America and other national advocacy organizations propose a unified vision for transforming behavioral health and substance use disorder care. The proposed vision is described in a press release dated December 16, 2020 that is posted on the Mental Health America website. It reads: Washington, D.C. – The chief executives of the nation’s 14 leading mental health advocacy organizations and professional associations today announced the formation of a unified coalition with a common vision in response to the nation’s mental health crisis.

“The CEOs of many of the major mental health organizations in the nation affirmed our collective commitment to the mental health of the nation and a reimagined system of care for people with mental illnesses,” said Mental Health America’s President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo. “This new system would be built from the needs of real people, not providers or advocates. And it focuses on prevention, early identification and intervention, integrated services, and recovery for all – for which MHA has been advocating for a century.”

As more than half of all Americans struggle with their mental health due to the impact of COVID-19, the leadership group is a first-of-its-kind, solutions-focused collaboration among the top mental health organizations and their chief executives to address the crisis and offer state and regional officials a blueprint for systemic reform. The partnership effectively establishes and rallies a rarely seen solidarity in the mental health space. It speaks to the urgency of the mental health emergency, reminiscent of previous collaborations established to address major health crises, including cancer in the 1970s and the HIV/AIDS in the 1980s.

“The pandemic has focused the nation’s attention on mental health and the inequities baked into our service delivery system,” Gionfriddo said. “If implemented, the principles and strategies imbedded in this visioning document will address those inequities and ensure that no person – of any racial, ethnic, or cultural group – with a mental health condition is ever again treated as a second-class citizen, as a danger to themselves or others, or as someone whose unavoidable health condition is somehow their own fault.”

The leadership coalition is comprised of CEOs from the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Kennedy Forum, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Mental Health America, the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health, One Mind, Pegs Foundation, the Steinberg Institute, the Treatment Advocacy Center and Well Being Trust.

You can read it directly on the site HERE.

The Mental Health Association in Michigan will keep its readers posted on the unified vision as it moves forward. For your own copy of the vision, you can download it HERE.

To read the full December 2020 newsletter, please CLICK HERE.