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 – November 2020

Welcome to the November 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.

November is moving quickly into December and the Holidays are rapidly approaching. At the Mental Health Association in Michigan, we pause during this season of Thanksgiving to remember, with gratitude, those who have generously given of their resources, talents and time to ensure MHAM is able to continue its work of public policy advocacy on behalf of those who often have no voice: persons with mental health conditions and addictions. Thank you for your support! Without you, the work of the Association would not be possible.

This month the legislature has slowed down. As I write these words, we are in the waning days of the month and the presidential election has loomed large despite the fact it was held on November 3. There is little to report this month and the focus is currently on the numbers of individuals in our state who have tested positive for COVID-19. This is reminiscent of April this year when Michigan was in the midst of a “stay at home” order that was designed to flatten the curve and control the spread of the virus. The most recent executive order on November 15 feels eerily familiar. For MHAM and those it represents, the ongoing nature of the pandemic serves to exacerbate already existent mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. As has been previously stated in “Letter from Lansing,” COVID-19 has done one thing well: It has illuminated the problems with the lack of access to quality mental health and addictions treatment in our state.

Mental Health America, the national organization that spurred on the creation of MHAM, proposes the importance of flattening the “mental illness curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The availability of treatment for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety remain as critical as ever given the ongoing nature of the pandemic. Mental Health America speaks to the mental health crisis that has developed in our nation in a blog post on its website. You can read it HERE.

“If we are going to address the mental health crisis, all newly elected officials from local to state to national offices must prioritize mental health as soon as they are seated. Let’s work together to implement an urgently needed plan to address the growing mental health crisis.

This means putting significant additional resources toward mental health programs and services that are directed toward the earliest stages of mental health conditions and focused from the start on recovery. It means increasing access to mental health supports. It means moving our responses to manifestations of mental illnesses out from under sheriffs, police officers, courtrooms, jails, and prisons. It means helping our schools and workplaces become more supportive of the mental health of children and adults. It means training more professionals, including peer specialists, to support people with mental illnesses. And it means ensuring that every person who is struggling with anxiety, depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress, or any other mental health condition gets the right health supports and treatments at the right time—B4Stage4.”

MHAM is concerned about the increase in suicides among our youth, particularly between the ages of 10 and 34. On December 15, MHAM will host a virtual community conversation about youth suicide. MHAM is partnering with the Association for Children’s Mental Health to talk about youth suicide that will be focused on: Help, Hope and Education. The goal is for youth with lived experience to be the speakers about how they would like their concerns to be addressed and to talk about “what does it look like for one of them if there are suicidal thoughts and ideation.” We will also talk about how to identify suicidal behaviors in youth and young adults. This event is geared toward youth and their parents and supporters. You can see more information below in this newsletter.

MHAM wants to hear from you about the integration of physical and behavioral healthcare in Michigan! Over the past five years, there has been talk at the State about ways to integrate behavioral health and physical healthcare for individuals with Medicaid who receive services from the community mental health system. In December of last year, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) rolled out its plan to create SIPS also known as “specialty integrated plans.” The MDHHS has put its SIP plan on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, MHAM is wondering: Do you know what is meant by “integrated care?” And, do you want your healthcare to be “integrated?” If you want to answer these two questions and participate in a statewide research survey, please click on this link to answer a few short questions.

Lastly, December 1 is #GivingTuesday. If you are looking to do any end of year donations, we ask that you would consider MHAM. Stay tuned and stay safe! We will see you in December!

Marianne Huff, LMSW
President & CEO

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