Opening Keynote: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel prioritizing access to behavioral healthcare


Shane Ersland


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Elizabeth Hertel said one of her top priorities is improving access to behavioral healthcare at the 2024 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference last month. 

“Everyone deserves access to behavioral healthcare where and when they need it. Our most recent budgets have included investments in access to behavioral healthcare, which includes increasing the number of programs based in schools, establishing crisis stabilization units and psychiatric residential treatment facilities to take the pressure off our emergency departments, and expanding our certified community behavioral health clinics. In addition, we’re working with partners to improve access to an array of coordinated services for children.”

— Hertel

Michigan is also in the process of rolling out funds from its $1.5 billion settlement from a national opioid lawsuit, Hertel noted. Communities will use funds on prevention and harm reduction programs to combat the epidemic. 

“We have been a leader in distributing these funds and ensuring the care, health, and well-being of residents in need. The National Governors Association recognized our state as a national leader in harm-reduction efforts. DHHS was authorized by the legislature to invest $62.4 million of the initial payments into our opioid remediation efforts. Those settlement funds are helping to address opioid use and treatment. We have distributed more than 730,000 naloxone kits (and) recorded over 6,600 overdose reversals since the 2020 launch of the naloxone direct portal.”

— Hertel

3 thoughts on “Opening Keynote: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel prioritizing access to behavioral healthcare”

    • The Governor and Director have both said families and kinship caregivers are crucial for children to keep relationships with the parents if the time limits from the Adoptions and Safe Family Act.
      The Governor is announcing this so- called wonderful job the state has done keeping children with blood relatives. All the while,caseworkers failed to get grandparents (in care of an infant in Ohio,where both parents and all family reside ) the yearly fingerprinting required. To cover it up they make false allegations of phone calls made that the parents have the child. Calls were completely unsubstantiated and couldn’t tell the courts where the calls were made. Still came to Ohio and removed the 18 month old and placed her back into foster care. Then weeks later, while the foster parents go on vacation, to another respite care family for 9 days. Parents have always been loving and appropriate with the child. The parents have been asking for the child to be placed in. Custody if grandparents to releive Michigan and allow them to do whatever they needed to, in order to get the child back into their care,in the state they all live. The Governor has completely ignored the letters wrote to her regarding the matter and her response was “Thank you for sharing your experience with CPS and Michigan.” It’s all extremely sad and the hild has since had 4 large bruises on her head! The visitations over video calls are hindering the bond that a child and her mother, father and 4 siblings deserve. The 4 other children are are still cared for by parents in Ohio. Why is it that they can just do this? Grandma did nothing wrong! Now termination has became the goal. It’s so wrong on so many levels! Nobody seems to care.

  1. June 2024, I have worked in Social Work for over 30 yrs, and never seen such a mess as the new “universal case manager” system in Michigan. Did ANYONE run mock case loads? Measure call response times? Monitor the number of Closed Cases? Appeals? Are new and redetermination applications reviewed and promptly decided? How long is it taking for new applications to be approved or denied? In my work and in consultation with other Social Workers the answer is no. Clients do not have an assigned case worker any longer, no one is familiar with their case nor who they can call to resolve issues. They system requires all DHS benefit recipients to use 1 phone number, if you can get through, the average number of callers ahead of you will exceed 300 FYI if you elect to wait on hold the call will immediately disconnect at 1 hr and 59 min. If you request a call back it may or may not happen and takes days further delaying service. When you finally reach a Call Center Representative, they do not know anything about your case, when clients try to explain their situation they are told ” they don’t have time for stories” How you can help someone without any knowledge of their needs or the Michigan required education and licensing. This Airline reservation software should NEVER be used and its the citizens of MIchigan who suffer.


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