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Michigan Implements Statewide Pandemic Mental Health Solutions

— April 29, 2020

Michigan implements statewide health resources for its frontliners.

“The pandemic is negatively affecting the mental health of most,’ according to behavioral science experts, who believe, “Long-term health effects will likely ripple across all age groups, including sleep disturbance, hypervigilance, PTSD, substance abuse, relapse and suicides.  The pandemic’s impact on mental health could result in a 10-20% increase in demand for mental health services.”  Michigan clinicians are preparing to combat this crisis head on, recently instituting the MI Frontline Support (MIFS), a new initiative offering statewide resources to frontline workers, including those in health care as well as at grocery stores and in the mail delivery and media industries.  MIFS is providing these individuals with relaxation podcasts, group support opportunities, and free hotlines to call.

“If we can help get people connected to the support that they need, that’s what we’re going for here; that’s our goal,” said Dr. Felicia Brabec, licensed therapist and co-creator of MIFS. “If we can help all of the people that are out there helping us, that’s what we want to do.”

Michigan Implements Statewide Pandemic Mental Health Solutions
Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

“The initiative is hoping to establish a network of 500 clinicians from around Michigan to ensure support is available in every county,” officials said.  The creators indicated they are more than halfway there, with 300 statewide participants on the list to date.  Sliding scale services are being offered as well as some pro bono measures.

Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg, a clinical psychologist and co-creator of Therapist Refresh, said, “It’s important for frontline workers to know that their feelings and reactions are not their fault.  Their exposure to trauma (either their own or of their patients) may seem overwhelming to their coping capacities.”  Gold-Steinberg said that “trauma affects people in many different ways,” physically, mentally and emotionally.

Some of the free statewide resources for support being offered to frontliners include:

“The Disaster Distress Helpline is available to provide crisis counseling 24/7 to those affected by COVID-10;

Mental Health America offers online tests for individuals to assess their mental health during this time;

Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital launched a weekly webcast called ‘Thrive With Your Family’ to help families through the new realities they face during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures;

The University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations and Center for Academic Innovation are offering the ‘Thrive in Trying Times Teach-Out’ for individuals and community members for free until May 25;

Michigan Gov. Whitmer announced the Stay Home, Stay MIndful website in partnership with Headspace to provide a new, free mental health resource for Michiganders during the pandemic.”

The state also received two federal grants, which were awarded to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration (BHDDA).  The SAMHSA Emergency COVID-10 grant will provide BHDDA with $2 million to assist Michigan residents living with mental health disorders and substance use disorders.

“We are grateful to SAMHSA and FEMA for recognizing Michigan’s urgent need for expanded behavioral health services at this time,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “These grants open up new pathways for trained professionals to help residents struggling with symptoms of mental illness and psychological trauma exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.”


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Michigan clinicians offer mental health resources to coronavirus frontline workers

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