Michigan Sen. Anthony introduces bills to mandate mental health coverage, end ‘chemical restraint,’ and allow excused mental health absences for students


James Sklar


On January 18th, 2023, State Senator Sarah Anthony (D – Lansing) introduced Senate Bills 27, 28, and 29, which is a set of bills addressing mental health issues in Michigan.


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“In recent years, we’ve seen an uptick in mental health issues, particularly among our young people,” Anthony said. “It’s high time that we take mental health seriously in our state. These bills do just that.” 

SB 27 concerns mental health insurance, SB 28 concerns drug usage on patients, and SB 29 concerns mental health absences for students.

Senate Bill 27 – Mental health insurance

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there is not a uniformed consensus across the US regarding the extent of required coverage for mental health providers. Consequently, state mental health policies vary widely in cost, coverage, and availability. Michigan mental health providers are only required to have policies affecting treatment and recovery when it’s related to substance abuse illnesses.

SB 27 seeks to amend Michigan’s insurance code to require Michigan insurers to provide coverage for behavioral health treatment, which includes mental health and substance use disorder services. The bill would require insurers to have the same level of benefits as their physical health services.

SB 27 currently awaits a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Policy.

Senate Bill 28 – Drug usage on patients

SB 28 aims to end the use of “Chemical Restraint.” Specifically, SB 28 would prohibit authorized licensed practitioners from using drugs on patients for disciplinary reasons, convenience reasons, restricting the resident’s freedom of movement, or managing a resident’s behavior in a way that reduces the safety risk to the resident or others.

Instead, SB 28 would require administrators to only use drugs for a diagnosed medical reason. Therefore, administrators would be required to use “less restrictive therapeutic intervention,” which would require professionals to implement a non-aversive strategy for impending dangerous behavior.

When Anthony was in the House, she introduced this piece of legislation in 2019 and again last session. Both of these bills died in the House Committee on Health Policy.

SB 28 currently awaits a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Policy.

Senate Bill 29 – Mental health absences for students.

SB 29 would amend Michigan’s school code to grant public school students five absences for behavioral health reasons. The students would not have to provide a medical note for their mental health absence.

According to CNBC, if Michigan passed SB 29, it would become the 13th state to recognize mental health days for students.

SB 29 awaits a hearing in the Senate Committee on Education.