Senator Stabenow: Michigan Selected as Finalist for First-of-its-kind Mental Health Initiative

Monday, October 19, 2015

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today announced that Michigan will be awarded $982,373 to compete in a nation-wide program to improve and expand access to mental health care. This first-of-its-kind initiative is based on Senator Stabenow's Excellence in Mental Health Act, which is one of the most significant steps forward in community mental health funding in decades. Selected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Michigan is one step closer to being chosen to be part of a new eight-state demonstration program to expand quality mental health care. This new program will offer patients increased services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling, and integrated treatments for mental illness. Senator Stabenow's bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act was cosponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and signed into law by President Obama last year.

"Mental illness touches every family in some way," Senator Stabenow said. "It is critically important that communities in Michigan have the resources they need to help everyone living with mental illness. We must continue to work together to make sure illnesses above the neck are treated the same as illnesses below the neck."

"Thanks to the tireless efforts of Senator Debbie Stabenow, the Excellence in Mental Health Act is one step closer to becoming a reality here in Michigan," said Tom Watkins, President and CEO of Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. "Her leadership has provided us a pathway to securing better overall mental and physical health resources for society's most vulnerable population. Mental illness touches all of our families and communities in some way - every town, city and state that has dealt with inequality in mental health services for far too long and finally be able to reap the benefits of superior mental healthcare coverage."

"We are excited to receive a planning grant for the State of Michigan to design and implement a structure that will further integrate and coordinate behavioral health and primary care, improve outreach to consumers in the greatest need and provide needed and effective coordination of care among providers in multiple settings throughout the state," said Jeff Patton, CEO of Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Michigan is one of 24 states selected to work with interested community mental health centers, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, VA clinics, and other mental health organizations to design a state program that meets the new quality standards for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers. The eight states chosen to participate in the demonstration program will increase funding for community mental health services and improve the quality of those services. This is the first step toward funding quality behavioral health services in communities nation-wide.

Senator Stabenow has been a life-long advocate for quality mental health services. She authored the mental health parity provisions in the Affordable Care Act to stop discrimination in coverage between physical and behavioral health services. Senator Stabenow introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act with Senator Blunt in 2013 to put mental health centers on a more equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and expanding access.

The law is supported by over 50 mental health organizations, veterans organizations and law enforcement organizations including: the National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs' Association, American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Give An Hour, among many others.

A full list of the 24 states awarded funding can be found here.