Michigan Association of Health Plans

State of Mind: Investing in mental health care early pays dividends down the road

More than 300,000 people in Michigan use the state’s public mental health system each year, but many more are turned away because their conditions aren’t considered severe enough due to lower budgets for community mental health programs.

Rich Thiemkey, executive director of Barry County Community Mental Health, said tightening budgets means there has been cutbacks in preventative mental health care because most resources have to go toward treating those with severe mental illnesses.

“If they can grab a hold and use those tools so they don’t continue to need our services, or don’t come over to the adult side, that’s a win for everybody because that individual is being successful in their life, but then we’re not continuing to pour more money into the system to support them,” Thiemkey said.

Studies show investing in mental health care early can pay major dividends down the road. According to the World Health Organization, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity for every dollar put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders.

Thiemkey said in the past few years Barry County Mental Health had to cut back on services in courts, jails and schools due to funding.

The study also shows underfunding of mental healthcare across the world leads to a loss of $1 trillion globally per year.

Thiemkey also said early intervention programs identify and treat mental illnesses before they escalate, helping patients and saving limited resources.

“Individuals who have a mental illness that’s moderate or mild, if not treated can certainly become severe,” Thiemkey said.

This article appeared in WWMT. Read the full story here.