Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, speaks on the Senate Floor on June 15. 

(The Center Square) – The Michigan Senate approved a $565 million bill, which appropriates mostly federal funding to improve the state’s mental health system.

Senate Bill 714 aims to fund jail diversion, create treatment units to reduce emergency room overcrowding, and bolster substance abuse programs.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, prioritized improving the state’s mental health system earlier this year.

“Our state’s mental health system is failing patients, their families, health care providers, and taxpayers,” Shirkey said in a statement. “Everyone in our state should have access to quality mental health services regardless of their means or where they live. Today, we’ve taken a critical step toward making sure they do.”

The bill, passed on a 36-1 vote, aims to include:

  • $100 million for infrastructure grants for pediatric inpatient services.
  • $50 million for community mental health services.
  • $35 million for the expansion of mental health services.
  • $25 million for the clinical integration fund.
  • $25.0 million for crisis stabilization units.

The package, if it becomes law, will provide $25 million for Michigan essential health provider loan repayment, $25 million for psychiatric residential treatment facilities, and $25 million for state psychiatric hospital capital outlay.

The bill would give $31 million to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. Of this, $30 million would support the career path apprenticeship program, and $1 million would create a behavioral health pilot in Lansing at the McLaren Greenlawn Hospital.

The bill would also invest in community hospitals to increase bed capacity and make structural improvements, help attract and retain mental health professionals, and fund programs designed to address mental health risks among children.

“The status quo is simply not acceptable,” Shirkey said. “The targeted, strategic investments in this bill are an important first step toward comprehensively fixing Michigan’s broken mental health system. With additional mental health integration reforms already introduced, through good governance, and by a concerted effort from Michigan residents to support the mental health of themselves, their loved ones, their neighbors and their coworkers, we can get people the care they need.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a record 106,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses over 12 months ending on November 2021.

SB 714 now goes to the House for consideration, where it would have to be passed and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.