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Debbie Stabenow, United States Senator for the State of Michigan since 2001, grew up in rural Michigan with a father who experienced bipolar symptoms. Like many of those without access to mental health support, Stabenow’s father and family struggled.
When Stabenow was in college, her father finally received the treatment he needed, and she saw the huge difference access to mental health care can make for individuals and families.
As a senator, Stabenow went on to support and contribute to many mental health laws and led the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act of 2009 that launched the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) program.
CCBHCs receive federal funds to provide mental health and substance use care to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay, place of residence, age, or diagnosis.
Overseen by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), CCBHCs began in 2016 as a demonstration program in eight states. In 2020, the CCBHC program expanded to include Michigan.
With the rising tide of mental health and substance use concerns since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, CCBHCs have been an essential resource for millions
Right here in Washtenaw County, CCBHC funding has combined with funding from the voter-approved Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage. The combination of the two funding sources has made our county’s mental health services more flexible, robust, and expansive.
Millage funding began in January 2019 and was used to fill gaps in care not covered by Medicaid. Then on August 5, 2020, Michigan was chosen as a CCBHC demonstration site. Washtenaw County applied to join the program, and was successful partly because the millage had already laid the groundwork for three of the ten required CCBHC services.
As a CCBHC, Washtenaw County has received $4 million to provide nine services and benefit from many other advantages.
The nine services are:
Of these 9 services, the millage was already supporting three: peer support, crisis services, and select outpatient services (i.e. case management) to Washtenaw’s under and uninsured individuals.
CCBHC funding also supports WCCMH’s multidisciplinary team, Washtenaw County’s crisis response team is a perfect example.
All CCBHCs are required to provide behavioral health crisis care. That’s one of the services that the millage had already set up before Washtenaw County became a CCBHC. With both funding sources combined, Washtenaw County has been able to offer more expansive crisis services including a 24/7 in-person mobile crisis response team that goes to the homes of people experiencing a crisis. In 2022, WCCMH provided more than 1,700 face-to-face crisis visits.
Most other CCBHCs–in Michigan, and across the nation–only offer phone crisis services, or only have in-person services in certain locations or at certain times. Other Michigan counties are now reaching out to Washtenaw to learn from our system.
Becoming a CCBHC has also allowed Washtenaw County to use its millage funds for other priorities, including flexible and innovative programs in the community. The millage now funds:
In 2022 alone, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health used $3.2 million in millage funds to provide enhanced services to the community, gave $2.4 million to community partners to boost this work, and dedicated another $2.3 million to the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for youth mental health services.
With the CCBHC program offering mental health services to anyone regardless of insurance and the millage funding enhancing care and creating innovative partnerships, Washtenaw County has the chance to meet the growing need for mental health care in our community.