CHRT study shows Michigan’s mental health system broken, lacks capacity, care not integrated

December 3, 2013 | Publication

The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) today released data showing that while one in four Michiganders reported being diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety, finding mental health services is difficult for consumers in most areas of the state, a fact confirmed by primary care providers seeking to refer patients.

The research brief, “Access to Mental Health Care in Michigan,” examines the need for mental health care along with capacity of Michigan’s health care system to serve people with mental health needs. Findings show that the increase in mental health coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be limited in its ability to help those most in need unless the state also expands capacity.

Depression is a highly prevalent disease with one in five Michiganders surveyed (20 percent) reporting being diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, higher than the U.S. average of 18 percent. Twenty-six percent of Michiganders reported ever having been diagnosed with depression, an anxiety disorder or both. Those with Medicaid and the uninsured reported even higher proportions, at 59 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

“The data compiled in this mental health care access brief is compelling,” says Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of CHRT. “Last February, the Governor appointed a Mental Health and Wellness Commission that is focused on improving the mental health system. Given that many Michiganders will soon be receiving more coverage for mental health services as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the Commission’s work could not be more timely or more important.”

“Consumers are having tremendous difficulty finding help,” says Udow-Phillips. “Any individual or family that has experience with mental health issues knows this.”

Further findings of the report include:

  • Fifty-seven percent of primary care physicians reported that availability of mental health services in their community was inadequate for adults and 68 percent reported it was inadequate for children.
  • Adult mental health services in the St. Joseph, Muskegon, and Petoskey regions had the highest inadequacy ratings (89, 82 and 77 percent, respectively).
  • Child mental health services received the poorest ratings in the Muskegon and Petoskey regions (100 and 94 percent, respectively).
  • Child mental health services received the poorest ratings in the Muskegon and Petoskey regions (100 and 94 percent, respectively).
  • In the Pontiac and Royal Oak regions, while primary care physicians reported the best access, more than a third noted that access was inadequate.
  • The availability of psychiatric beds in Michigan is extremely low compared to other states—Michigan was ranked 42nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in availability of inpatient psychiatric beds, according to national data.
  • Survey respondents with depression and/or anxiety reported an average of five days per month in which poor health limited their activities of daily living, including work.
  • Nationwide, it is estimated that depression results in a direct loss of $31 billion in productivity annually.

The research brief, Access to Mental Health Care in Michigan, is part of Cover Michigan Survey 2013, a series of publications tracking trends in access to care, cost and quality in Michigan. Copies of the research briefs are available at chrt.test.