Mental health in copper country again topic of discussion | News, Sports, Jobs


KEWEENAW COUNTY — Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in her State of the State address this week, offered policies to invest in mental health and grow Michigan’s mental health workforce.

Whitmer said investing in the state’s mental health workforce is necessary to ensure Michigan residents have the support and resources they need to thrive.

“Every Michigander deserves access to mental and physical health care,” said Whitmer. “To improve access, we need to expand the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program, build on our work to hire more counselors, social workers and psychologists on school campuses, and implement parts of my MI Healthy Communities proposal to build community capacity. behavioral health.”

This should be good news for residents of the western Upper Peninsula. In early May 2021, the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office posted a post on their social media page in reference to a “young person” who had driven a vehicle into a stand of trees in his jurisdiction at almost 100 miles per hour. At the time, Sheriff Curt Pennala said the main reason for the post was for his department to express frustration and raise awareness of what law enforcement was up against, as well as what the public was also up against. confronted. When its agents are working and someone is considered a risk or harm to themselves or someone else, the person is taken into custody and transported to the nearest hospital for evaluation. of his mental health, Pennala said.

“Over the past month we have transported several people who were seeking help, to be assessed by our local mental health,” Pennala said in an interview last May. “Would you like to guess the number of treatments received? Nothing. When are we going to have a meaningful discussion about Michigan’s broken mental health system? »

Pennala said he wanted to be clear that this was not aimed at CCMH.

“They do a fantastic job” he said. “I believe they have their hands tied with a lack of funding and a lack of resources,” then added that the people and agencies his office works with share the same frustrations. “In our local community, I think a lot of people share the frustration of the lack of mental health resources available.”

A statement released Wednesday by the governor’s office echoed sentiments expressed by Pennala nearly a year ago.

Jane Frank, executive director of the Association for Children’s Mental Health, was quoted in the governor’s statement as saying that mental health is just as important as physical health, and “we applaud Governor Whitmer’s proposals to help millions of children and families in Michigan to obtain the services and

support they need. In addition to helping Michigan residents pay for quality mental health services, Governor Whitmer also recognizes that many communities lack access to trained mental health professionals. Again, the governor is putting Michiganders first with programs to end this disparity.”

The statement said Whitmer wants every person in Michigan to have access to the health care they deserve, both mental and physical, and will work with anyone to ensure Michiganders receive the care they deserve.

She also calls for an expansion of the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP) to focus on behavioral health providers and increased funding for mental health professionals in Michigan schools. Expansion will help retain or recruit hundreds of mental health professionals

suppliers in Michigan. Last year, Whitmer also proposed MI Healthy Communities, a $1.4 billion proposal that would increase community treatment capacity for behavioral health and substance abuse disorders.

Pennala last year went above and beyond the governor’s hopes for an expansion of state mental health services. Last May, he said he thought it was time for society to recognize that seeking mental health help is no different from seeking medical assistance. This too was mentioned in the statement from the governor’s office.

“We recognize, more and more every day, that there is no health without mental health”, Dr. Gregory Dalack, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, is quoted as saying. “We applaud Governor Whitmer’s proposal to expand access to mental health coverage in the State of Michigan. This is a major and significant step in efforts to improve access and reduce the cost of mental health and addictions treatment for Michiganders.

The message from the Sheriff’s Office last May made a direct appeal to the general public:

“We ask you to help us start the discussion locally”, the post said. “Contact your state officials. Contact your mental health council and help us understand how we can solve this problem. It is our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who are crying out for help. We have to change things. »



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Jessica C. Bell