Michiganders continue to report difficulty accessing mental health care, forgoing needed care.

April 30, 2020

A profile of a Michigan resident who cannot access mental health care. The profile is made of maple leaves that shade to red.The 2020 Cover Michigan Survey, an online survey fielded in early 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting Michigan), asked Michiganders about their ability to access mental health care. Across Michigan, 47 percent of survey respondents reporting needing mental health care before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be exacerbating mental healthcare needs.

Among these Michiganders, more than one in five indicated that getting an appointment for mental health care was either very or somewhat difficult. Overall, 14 percent of respondents reported forgoing needed mental health care, which is an increase from CHRT’s 2018 Cover Michigan Survey findings on access trends that found only 8 percent of respondents reported forgoing needed mental health care. Individuals who reported forgoing needed mental health care most often cited the cost or lack of insurance coverage (cited by more than half of those who reported forgoing care) or trouble navigating the mental health care system.

These findings are not surprising given Michigan’s well-documented behavioral health provider shortage–a shortage that impacts 4.2 million Michiganders in federally designated provider shortage areas–and the fact that behavioral health providers overall are less likely than primary care doctors to participate in an insurance network. Even after much progress with parity laws, behavioral health coverage still lags behind physical health coverage.

Despite these ubiquitous shortcomings, accessing mental health services is a bigger challenge for some Michiganders including those who identify as Hispanic, young adults, caregivers, those in poor or fair health, those diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and those who experience health care coverage gaps. Among respondents with insurance, those with employer-provided insurance and those with Medicaid coverage were more likely to have difficulty getting a mental health care appointment, while those with individually-purchased plans or Medicare were least likely to have difficulty.