The State of Michigan’s propensity to control everything is coming back to haunt mental health care, leading to surprising voices for healthcare freedom.
Chronic State Meddling in Mental Health Market
Michigan’s community mental health services programs, run by MDHHS, were already busy before Michigan passed its professional counselor licensing law limiting supply, and state LGBTQ and COVID policies increased demand for mental health services.
The same counselors who lobbied for licensing, are now fleeing state-run CMH clinics for private practice.
However, private practice isn’t the only place they’re going.
State-expanded funding and locations of school mental health clinics is proving a huge drain for CMH. According to Bridge Michigan,
Michigan schools are attracting social workers, in part, because of the recent state budget that allocated $101.5 million for child and adolescent health centers and intermediate districts to expand mental health programming, compared to $21.5 million for fiscal year 2019. State schools also received $6 billion in federal pandemic funds they could use to expand mental health programs.
Following the money and seeking better work conditions, stressed social workers are getting out of state-run community mental health. Who can blame them?
Of course, school clinics are also state-paid and state-run, but their institutional arteries haven’t hardened yet. (Give them time.)
Calls to deregulate
Astonishingly, Bridge Michigan also presents robust support for eliminating occupational barriers. This is unprecedented in my experience with Michigan media, aside from free market think tank Mackinac Center.
… federal policy and Michigan’s own rules might be strangling its ability to get social workers in position.
Insurance often reimburses for health care services only if it’s a licensed, master’s level social worker doing them — making it tough to employ social workers without those credentials, said MyMichigan’s Dollard.
In Michigan, that license requires working under a supervisor for 4,000 hours — more than most states, according to Duane Breijak, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
In addition, they report some hiring candidates at the bachelor level instead of waiting for the usual masters degree.
Most surprising of all, one call for reform comes from Michigan academia and a national professional organizationn, both consistent supporters of occupational barriers.
Sheryl Kubiak is dean of the Wayne State University School of Social work and co-chair of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work’s task force on the licensure exam.
The article reports that Kubiak, the National Association of Social Workers, and others are asking Michigan to drop the test requirement.
But predictably, Michigan legislature is doubling down on school mental health mandates and an unconstitutional compact for physician assistants.
Local Innovators: the heart of mental health
Thankfully, those who need help don’t have to wait for the state to get out of the way. Besides the usual self-care measures, they may find local innovators responding to the need.
One option is the delightful, growing movement of equine therapy. So far it is unlicensed in Michigan, and therefore more free to serve individuals creatively.
In my area of West Michigan, within 20 miles of each other, three equine therapy businesses serve different therapy needs from unique Christian perspectives.
H.U.G.S. Ranch does amazing things for the severely disabled.
Bridle of Hope helps families survive trauma with compassionate biblical counseling.
Renew Therapeutic Riding Center shares this story of a child’s life transformed:
Excellence deserves to be celebrated!
Many more equine therapy businesses exist across Michigan. Some are nonprofits, some accept volunteers, all can use financial help to meet the need. (Please, don’t even think about suggesting state funding.)
I challenge you to find and support mental health innovators in your area. When you find one, tell us about it and drop a link below.