The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) has proposed a $227 million plan to expand mental health services in the area.
DWIHN President and CEO Eric Doeh announced a proposal that would add hundreds of new psychiatric beds, a crisis care center, and specialized/integrated residential housing in the city last week.
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“Mental health knows no kind, no type, no race, no economic situation whatsoever,” Doeh said. “It is just something that affects all of us, whether directly or indirectly. So we’ve been having this conversation for some time when it comes to the number of beds that are available here in Wayne County.”
While working with city and county officials, DWIHN determined there was a need for more than 288 psychiatric beds in Wayne County, Doeh said.
“That number may not seem like much, but that’s 288 beds that would offer some reprieve for many of our citizens and our law enforcement partners [in] having some place to take some of our most vulnerable,” he said. “Those are just psychiatric beds. We still need residential beds. Emergency departments are for emergencies. For many of our folks who go to emergency departments, there are other places they could go. We hope this (will) offer that.”
DWIHN is asking the state legislature to provide funds for the project which, if funded, would provide a total of 450 beds to increase capacity for both short-term and long-term inpatient housing. Sixty beds would be located in the new crisis care center in Detroit, 110 beds would be designated for integrated residential housing, 120 beds would serve specialized residential housing needs, and 160 beds would serve inpatient psychiatric care facilities in metro Detroit.
“It is a tremendous ask, but it is a tremendous need,” Doeh said. “So it fits that tremendous ask.”
DWIHN’s plan has received support from both the city and the county. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city has 1,500 residents who have been recipients of more than one emergency call for mental health services at their home in the last three years.
“We have almost 400 who are making repeated calls, upwards of 11 calls a year, [and] either EMS or the police are called to those sites,” Duggan said. “That’s not a comprehensive mental health system. That’s a revolving door mental health system. We need the 160 long-term treatment beds this country has been missing for 30 years.”
Duggan said the timing was right to ask lawmakers for mental health funding, as they are in the midst of a long legislative session. The House and Senate are expected to pass individual chamber appropriations recommendations before negotiating on a budget, which is expected to occur in June.
“The state legislature is debating how they’re going to spend in excess of $50 billion in the state budget,” he said. “And we are saying mental health services ought to be a priority. And you should be able to squeeze another $100 or $200 million for that priority if you really believe it. We’re going to Lansing to get it. We are asking the state legislature for it. They’re having appropriations hearings right now, so we think the timing is appropriate.”
Lawmakers are currently considering numerous bills that could help address mental health issues as well. Rep. Luke Meerman’s (R-Coopersville) House Bill 4089 would create the School Safety and Mental Health Commission, which would work to identify the best practices to address the mental needs of students.