mental health

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Last month's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida prompted the President to call for more attention to mental health.

That's a common response to these violent events – Sandy Hook, Columbine, Las Vegas, the theater shooting in Colorado, and so many more.

So how should we think about mental health in the wake of tragedies like these?

Michigan Radio

Growing up in Alabama and Kalamazoo, Calvin Greene always felt different. He thought his hyperactivity couldn't simply be a product of an energetic personality. But it wouldn’t be until after he was awarded parole in his mid-twenties, though, that he would receive a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Bipolar Disorder.

But Greene’s treatment process would come with unique challenges due to the stigma attached to issues of mental health within the African-American community.  

Courtesy of Matinga Ragatz

Students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today in Florida – their first time back after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting two weeks ago.

The Parkland shooting has seemed to galvanize students, citizens, corporations, and politicians into action. Most everyone agrees something must be done to make our schools safer.

The progression of a cleanup of a room of someone with hoarding disorder.
Hoarding Task Force of Washtenaw County

For a while, the show Hoarders was popular on cable.

A show about people who just can’t stop hoarding things in their homes. Bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms are piled high with paper, dishes, clothes, food. Doors can’t open. Sometimes there are too many animals in the house. People with hoarding disorder put themselves – and sometimes others – in danger.

The TV show resolves the issue with a lot of drama and tears, and the problem, at least what the viewer sees, is all taken care of in one or two episodes.

But life doesn’t work that way, and for a long time, there just wasn’t a lot of help available for people with hoarding disorder.

Patients at the Eloise Psychiatric Hospital in the early 1950s.
Friends of Eloise

When I was a child growing up in the Detroit area in the 1960s, all the kids knew what happened if you became mentally ill, or as we so nicely put it, went nuts. You would be taken to Eloise, which we vaguely knew of as a huge mental institution somewhere.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

The state says it’s taking new steps to fix Michigan’s serious lack of inpatient psychiatric care, in hopes of jump-starting a more comprehensive fix.

Michigan largely shut down its inpatient psychiatric facilities in the 1990s. Rather than picking up the slack, community hospitals cut back too.

That means there’s now a serious shortage of beds for people who need care for an acute psychiatric crisis.

Courtesy of Chris Andrews

Chris Andrews, a native of Suttons Bay, walked 3,200 miles across the United States back in 2016.

His motivation, he said, was to spread “a simple message about finding balance in how we use our digital devices.”

Willie Brooks
Oakland County

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority has named Willie Brooks its new CEO.

This is actually the second time Brooks has been offered the job as head of the state’s largest community mental health services provider.

Shredded dollar
TaxCredits.net / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The community mental health provider in Kent County wants the state to expedite the process of figuring out how to adequately fund its mental health programs.

Scott Gillman, the CEO and Executive Director of Network 180, the community mental health authority in Kent County, says that people switching to the state’s Healthy Michigan program is the cause for the lack of funds.

Network 180 lost about $9.7 million over the last two years because several people switched from having Disabled, Aged and Blind status on their insurance to the Healthy Michigan program.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Lansing has put Michigan’s biggest mental health agency on notice that its state certification may be in jeopardy.

That agency is the Detroit-Wayne Mental Health Authority. This year, it doled out over $700 million to community mental health service providers serving about 80,000 people.

The warning came in a December 18th letter from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to DWMHA leaders, after Michigan Radio reported on concerns about how the Authority conducts business.

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How does loneliness impact your mental and physical health?

Dr. Farha AbbasiMichigan State University psychiatrist, believes loneliness is one of the greatest challenges we face as a society. She joined Stateside to share her work.

An uncorrected summary of benefits for a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO plan showing language requiring prior authorization for mental health and substance abuse outpatient treatment.
Dr. Lou Feurino

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is apologizing for a significant error in its benefits plan documents for 2018.


The error related to mental health and substance abuse treatment. Benefits summaries for some plans said they required prior authorization for mental health or substance abuse outpatient treatment.

That sent some patients--and their doctors--into a panic. A requirement for prior authorization could mean that some patients would not be able to continue their treatments, or might be required to change providers.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette hasn’t hesitated to launch investigations into a number of agencies whose behavior he’s found questionable.

So he might want to seriously consider looking at potential corruption at the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, where there are indications some board members may be putting their own private interests ahead of the needs of those they are supposed to help.

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College campuses are filling up with students again, which means all the associated stress is returning to campuses too.

Mental health administrators Nicole Lawson, Christina Nicholas, and Jillian Trumbell demonstrate at the Michigan Capitol
Rick Pluta / MPRN

More than 300 thousand people in Michigan depend on public mental health care, and the state is wrestling with the question of who should oversee and administer those services.

Michigan is debating whether mental health funding will be taken away from community mental health groups and transferred instead to private insurers in Michigan’s Medicaid Health plans.

brain scan

State lawmakers have formed a task force to look for ways to improve mental health treatment in Michigan.

It’s called the House C.A.R.E.S task force. C.A.R.E.S stands for Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety.

The committee was formed by House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt. Late last year, Leonard said a mental health overhaul was one of his top priorities.

Now he has appointed over a dozen state lawmakers to serve on the bipartisan task force.

brain scan

Plans to change Michigan’s mental health system would take a step forward under a budget plan moving through the Legislature.

The legislation calls for a pilot program in Kent County that would integrate Medicaid's mental and physical health services under private insurers.

A Health Blog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A controversial proposal to integrate behavioral healthcare with physical healthcare under management by private insurance companies is moving ahead, under a budget plan making its way through the state Legislature.

The new budget would require a pilot program  in Kent County, and allows the state to conduct up to three more pilot programs. 

Robert White holds a picture of his sons Fred, 46, and Michael, 32, who are both on the autism spectrum.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Major changes could be coming tomorrow in the services for people living with a mental illness or a developmental disability in Michigan.

Tom Watkins

“Legislators… NOT FOR SALE: My Mental Health Care.”

So says a series of billboards that have popped up along I-75. The billboards, which also feature a couple and their young daughter, are targeted at state legislators who will be driving up north this weekend for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

pictures of rock garden
Courtesy of @GHHSBucs / Twitter

When a teen is depressed and wrestling with thoughts of suicide, the stigma associated with mental illness can be a huge barrier to reaching out for help.

That's why the culture and climate at school is so crucial. Schools need teachers and administrators who know the warning signs of a mental health crisis and what to do next to support their students. 

At Grand Haven Public Schools, six students have died by suicide since 2011. Those tragic losses have spurred the district to revamp the way they talk about mental health. 

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The state is considering building a new psychiatric hospital as a replacement for the aging Caro Center in Tuscola County, in the Thumb. Governor Snyder’s proposed state budget includes $115 million for building a new facility, but the Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t decided where it will be built.

ryanknap / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0


Mental health therapy can take many forms. But what about running?

Sasha Wolff founded a group called “Still I Run.” The group's goal is to encourage people struggling with mental health issues to get out and run. She spoke to Stateside about running for mental health.

Mental health administrators Nicole Lawson, Christina Nicholas, and Jillian Trumbell demonstrate at the Michigan Capitol
Rick Pluta / MPRN

There was a big rally at the state Capitol Wednesday to support improved mental health services and to oppose Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul how those services are paid for.


The Snyder administration and publicly funded mental health agencies have been at odds over an overhaul plan. It would allow private insurance companies to manage $2.5 billion in Medicaid funds earmarked for mental health.

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last night (May 2) voters in Ann Arbor and Kent County approved funding for schools. Two proposals that would have allowed the construction of wind farms spanning several townships in Huron County were defeated.

Craig Mauger

This story was produced as a collaboration between Michigan Radio and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Graphics by Kaye LaFond. 

Michigan lawmakers who will decide whether to hand health insurance plans a major victory this spring have received about $1 million in contributions from committees and executives connected to the plans.

Netflix mailer.
user rachellynnae© / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The new Netflix show "13 Reasons Why" is causing lots of controversy in schools. That's because it graphically deals with themes like suicide and sexual assault. It's also marketed to a teen audience.

Muskegon Intermediate School District is the latest in the country to send home a warning about the show. The district sent a letter to parents and guardians last week.

Stephanie Koenig is a social worker at Michigan Medicine who has worked substantially with adolescent psychiatry. 

A Health Blog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Community mental health groups fear that their funding and management could be transferred to private insurers.

The state House and Senate subcommittees on Health and Human Services passed their budget plans for the department this past week. Mental health groups say the Senate subcommittee's plan intends to privatize by 2020.

Similarly, Gov. Rick Snyder last year called for moving the $2.5 billion of community mental health money and management to private insurers. The House's proposal did not call for moving the money or management to private insurers.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This is a big week for the future of mental health care in Michigan.

All the complexities aside, which have been covered at length on Stateside over the last year, essentially it comes down to one question: Should the mental health services remain in the control of public entities like Community Mental Health centers, or should private insurance companies take the lead?

A woman in a dark room



When mental illness strikes a loved one, the first person many families turn to is often a faith-based leader: a priest, a minister, a rabbi, or an imam.

The Ninth Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference aims to help clergy do a better job of helping members of their congregation who are suffering from mental illness.

The conference will run April 13-14th at the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry.