Access to mental health care in Michigan

December 3, 2013

A young woman looking out a window, suffering from a mental health disease.One in five Michigan residents report having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. Mental health disorders cause more disability among Americans than any other illness group.

Using data from the Cover Michigan Survey and the Michigan Primary Care Physician Survey, both fielded in calendar year 2012, this brief explores issues related to the prevalence of mental health disease, specifically depression and anxiety, and the capacity of the Michigan health care system to serve people with these conditions.

Overall, it is clear that there is high need for mental health services in Michigan and the capacity to serve those in need is not adequate to the task. Without addressing increased capacity for care, the increased mental health coverage provided to many under the Affordable Care Act will do little to help those most in need.

Key findings include:

  • Depression and anxiety are prevalent in Michigan and higher than the U.S. average. Twenty percent of Michiganders reported ever being diagnosed with depression, compared to 18 percent of Americans. Prevalence is greater when diagnoses of depression and/or anxiety are combined
    • Depression and/or anxiety were reported in Michigan at particularly high rates among those with Medicaid (59 percent) and the uninsured (33 percent).
  • People with depression and/or anxiety had greater difficulty completing everyday activities, including work, than did Michiganders with other or no chronic conditions.
    • Respondents with depression and/or anxiety reported twice as many limited activity days compared to those who reported having other chronic conditions. Respondents with depression and/or anxiety reported an average of five days in which poor health limited their activity.
  • The health care system in Michigan is inadequate to serve adults and children with mental health needs.
    • 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).
      • Even in regions where primary care physicians reported the best access (Pontiac and Royal Oak), 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.


Suggested Citation: Smiley, Mary; Young, Danielle; Udow- Phillips, Marianne; Riba, Melissa; Traylor, Joshua. Access to Mental Health Care in Michigan. Cover Michigan Survey 2013. December 2013. Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation. Ann Arbor, MI.