What’s being done to address Michigan’s mental health care shortage

49 counties in Michigan without any child psychiatrists
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 6:36 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A major shortage of child psychiatrists is impacting Michiganders. According to a study from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there are 49 counties in Michigan without any child psychiatrists.

Clinton County only has one child psychiatrist.

Eaton and Jackson counties only have two child psychiatrists each.

Ingham county has slightly better numbers, with 14 child psychiatrists, however, 14 is still considered a shortage when considering population.

Most of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula does not have any child psychiatrists.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer just proposed a historical amount of money per student to get mental health resources in Michigan’s schools. It comes as parents across the state demand more mental health support for their children

News 10 spoke with parents who said they have not been able to get mental health support for their kids, no matter how hard they try. They’re seeing frequent violent outbursts and suicide attempts, and they said it’s tearing their families apart.

“Everybody feels it, we really need to be looking at this as a systemic issue,” said Rachel Cuschieri-Murray. “It is exhausting, and it’s devastating, to not be able get your child the help they need.”

After struggling to find intensive care for her son’s complex mental health issues, Cuschieri-Murray started a group for parents to support one another and influence government policy.

A statewide issue, as this week, Whitmer proposed funding to try and fill the shortage of counselors.

“We are bolstering recruitment efforts, toward behavioral health workers, to help more people access mental health care,” Whitmer said.

The Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton Eaton and Ingham Counties said they are expanding recruitment as well. They’ve already raised pay, and expanded their student loan reduction program.

“We’re seeing things turn around a little bit but we still need to keep our foot on the pedal,” said Sara Lurie, CEO of Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton Eaton and Ingham.

Helping meet the need, as Cuschieri-Murray continues her fight to help Michigan’s children.

“It’s very possible for us to fix this,” said Cuschieri-Murray.

The Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton Eaton and Ingham has also increased its number of internships and college program partnerships. They said they are working on more initiatives, but that these large issues take time to fix.

Michigan is one of the only states that does not offer mental health insurance for government employees. However, the recently introduced Michigan Senate Bill 27, would require all insurance companies to cover mental health care.

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