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mental health

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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.

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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.

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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. 

Both the Michigan House and Senate introduced identical bills today to address teacher pensions.
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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.

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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.
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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. 

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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 building
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
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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.

Thanks to the Community Mental Health Authority in Lansing, Jerri Nicole Wright is 26 years sober and is on the "road to recovery".
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The future of mental health in the state of Michigan is at a crossroads. Governor Rick Snyder has $2.4 billion in mental health care funding to spend. Lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the health care debate are trying to determine who should manage that money.

Jerri Nicole Wright is a Lansing resident and longtime consumer of state mental health service. She joined Stateside to talk about her journey through Michigan's mental health care system.

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A personal tragedy can open your eyes to things that had previously been out of sight and out of mind.

For Abby Dart, it was her husband’s suicide in 2004. That loss opened her eyes to the stigma we’ve built up around mental health problems. She believes that stigma killed her husband Steve.

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Some call it the Doubting Disease.

OCD—Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—is when you've got recurring, uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors. 

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Governor Rick Snyder wants the $2.4 billion in mental health Medicaid money to be turned over to private insurance companies to manage.

He believes that Medicaid funds will be better spent and more people with behavioral issues and mental illnesses will be better served. Mental health would be integrated with physical health under the HMOs.

Many mental health advocates and patients don’t like the idea.

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Macomb County officials are sounding the alarm about scheduled budget cuts for its mental health programs.

A changed state formula for distributing Medicaid funds has hit the county disproportionately hard. Medicaid “rebasing” has cut money for mental health services there by about $30 million in the past year.

John Kinch, director of Macomb County Community Mental Health, said those cuts to Macomb’s budget are staggered, with the final one kicking in April 1.

“And then starting April 1, it will be another $12.4 million,” Kinch said. “I can’t absorb $12.4 million.”

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Trauma comes in many forms: from refugees who were forced to walk over dead bodies as a child on the way to school in a war-torn country, to survivors of sexual assault, to the spiritual trauma many feel living in a nation that is divided and bitter.

Dr. Farha Abbasi, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, joined Stateside to talk about her definition of trauma, what can cause it and how to treat it.

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The question of how to improve Michigan's $2.4 billion mental health care system has been on the front burner for the better part of a year.

The latest twist came when Michigan's 11 Medicaid health plans called on state policy makers to give them a greater say in controlling the system. But it was concern over this very action, of moving control of mental health services out of the public's hands and turning it over to for-profit insurance companies, that sparked the year-long dialogue in the first place.

The move blindsided those who were working on a proposal they thought everyone had agreed upon, including the health plans. Among them is Kevin Fischer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Michigan

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

Early this year, Governor Rick Snyder sent shock waves through Michigan's mental health care community when his proposed 2017 budget included changes in who would control the purse strings.

The Governor proposed taking much of the $2.4 billion mental health care system and switching that from public mental health organizations to private HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations).

A workgroup made up of state officials, mental health advocates, insurance industry representatives, state mental health providers, and others were formed to look at the issue.

Last week the group released a draft report that, in essence, saw the state reversing its course on shifting mental health funding, at least for now.

MRI scan
NIH Image Gallery / flickr

Michigan's Legislature and the mental health community in the state are at odds over how best to provide and manage services.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a draft set of recommendations to the Legislature about Governor Snyder's Section 298 proposal that would effectively privatize mental health services.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

We may soon see a draft proposal for how Michigan will handle more than two billion dollars in Medicaid funding earmarked for mental health.

The Snyder administration caused an uproar earlier this year when it backed a plan to further privatize the public nonprofit mental health system by turning over $2.4 billion in state funding to Medicaid HMOs.

Mental Health groups said this would put control of the money into the hands of out-of-state, for-profit insurance companies.

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What do we really mean when we talk about mental health and mental illness? We use those terms so often, but do we really understand what we’re talking about?

Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program Facebook page

Dr. Perry Baird was a Texas-born and Harvard-trained physician. In the '20s and '30s, his medical career was on the rise. And he became more and more interested in what caused “manic depression,” as it was known at the time.

Today, we know it as bipolar disorder.

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"Hearing voices" is known as an auditory hallucination. The Mental Health Foundation tells us that it may or may not be associated with a mental health problem.

It's the most common type of hallucination in people with disorders such as schizophrenia. 

There's a stigma that follows such hallucinations. If you speak openly about hearing voices, you're likely to be labeled, medicated, even hospitalized. 

But the Hearing Voices Network thinks it has another way to help people understand and learn to live with those voices. 

Janice Fialka, left, with her husband Rich, son Micah and daughter Emma in Syracuse.
Courtesy of Janice Fialka

How do you express your feelings when a team of experts sits you down to tell you your child is developmentally disabled?

When Janice Fialkaof Huntington Woods came home reeling from such a case conference about her five-year-old son Micah, she sat down and tried to put her feelings into words.

The result was a poem she calls Advice to Professionals who must "conference cases."

"I want my son back," she writes. "I want him back now. Then I'll get on with my life."

And that she did. Fialka and her family - husband Rich, daughter Emma and son Micah - launched themselves on a mission to prove that labels and IQ tests are not true measures of someone's ability to be valuable to the world, to contribute, to learn. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
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Governor Rick Snyder has put forth a proposal to privatize all or part of Michigan's mental health system. The governor has suggested $2.4 billion be shifted to Medicaid HMOs rather than public mental health organizations, according to reports in Crain’s Detroit Business.

Lieutenant Gov. Brian Calley has been heading up discussions with work group of public mental health agencies and advocacy groups. But it appears those talks have broken down.

Buddy-to-Buddy sends volunteer veterans to help other veterans or servicemembers
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Who can understand the problems, fears and worries of veterans and military service members better than someone who has served?

That's the idea behind Buddy-to-Buddy. It's the only program of its kind in Michigan, focused on peer support. Veterans who can help other vets and service members. 

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