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Michigan Mental Health Services Guide

Many people don't realize that publicly-funded mental health services are available in their state. People looking for free or low-cost counseling often think their only options are counselors in private practice and don't know that publicly-funded providers in their communities may also offer counseling services. 


While state-based programs are not for everyone, they are often a great place to start for people who face geographic or financial barriers to therapy. Intake specialists at community mental health programs can help people learn whether they qualify for state-funded services and can refer people who don't qualify to other low-cost programs that may be able to meet their needs.



When Should You Go to a State Mental Health Program?

Few mental health providers outside of those in the public sector are able to immediately serve people in crisis. This usually makes public mental health services the best option for anyone who is having a mental health crisis and who needs help right away. The people who answer crisis lines are qualified to determine the best response to a crisis, whether it's inpatient treatment or an appointment with a counselor.

In most cases, community mental health programs serve as alternative providers for people who lack the means to access services in the private sector. County mental health programs prioritize people with severe mental illness that impairs their functioning and that puts them at risk of hospitalization. However, Michigan's system also includes contracted providers that serve people with a wide range of mental health needs. If you don't have insurance, you can call providers in your public network to see if you qualify for services and what payment plans are available. If you're not finding what you need through the public mental health system in Michigan, you can search for free or low-cost local counselors on or try affordable online counseling at BetterHelp (a sponsor ).

According to Mental Health America, Michigan ranks 15 out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia) for access to mental health care. However, many people in Michigan still don't get the care they need. According to SAMHSA, only 44 percent of people in Michigan with mental health conditions get treatment for them. The reason many people don't get treatment is because they're not aware that they have affordable options nearby. You don't have to be one of them—consider calling an access or crisis line to learn more about local options for mental health care where you live in Michigan.


Who Is Eligible for Public Mental Health Services in Michigan?

Anyone in Michigan who has Medicaid or who qualifies for Medicaid is eligible for public mental health services as long as those services are medically necessary. Services are considered medically necessary when a person has a mental health condition that impacts their well-being and when that condition will not improve without treatment. Medicaid covers counseling for mild or moderate mental health conditions as well as intensive services for severe mental illness.

State programs direct people who have private insurance to find mental health providers through their insurance networks. People without insurance qualify for public mental health services in Michigan when funding is available. Most of the time, general state funds for mental health are reserved for people who are at risk of hospitalization. This means people who don't have Medicaid usually only qualify for services at CMHSPs when they have severe mental illness. Some CMHSPs allow people who lack insurance to pay for services on a sliding scale if they don't qualify for state financial assistance. 

Public crisis services are available to anyone in Michigan who is experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency regardless of their insurance status or mental health history.


How Can You Find Out More About Local Programs in Michigan?

Most PIHPs and CMHSPs operate crisis lines that you can call to request or learn more about local mental health services. The people who answer crisis lines can guide you through mental health crises, inform you about local services, make referrals, and sometimes even help you set up appointments. Which crisis or access line you should call depends on your county of residence. Most crisis lines also serve as general information and access lines and can help connect you with local mental health services even when you are not in crisis.

The following list includes numbers for every PIHP and CMHSP in Michigan, as well as contact information for affiliated providers that offer counseling and other outpatient services for adults. Note that most providers accept clients from across their entire service region. You can call these programs directly to find out if you qualify for their services.


Michigan's Mental Health Clinics and Access Numbers

Upper Peninsula

Northern Michigan

Central Michigan

Western Michigan

Southeast Michigan

Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another option for public mental health care in Michigan. Many are listed as network providers in the counties they serve. These federally-funded programs link behavioral healthcare with primary medical care and provide high-quality integrated care to people with complex needs. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers sliding scale fees to people without insurance. You can search for FQHCs using the online search tool on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.  


How Does Michigan's Public Mental Health System Work?

In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about how to treat mental health conditions. New laws required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. Many states' public mental health programs trace their origins back to this period. Michigan is no exception. The state enacted its own Community Mental Health Services Act in 1963, the same year the federal Community Mental Health Act was passed.

Michigan's first community mental health law encouraged cities and counties across the state to develop local mental health programs. The state's 1974 Mental Health Code made these recommendations into requirements by defining core minimum mental health services that each county had to provide.

In 1995, Michigan passed a sweeping reform law that completely overhauled its public mental health system. The new law transformed community mental health service programs (CMHSPs) from government entities into independent organizations as part of a shift toward privatization and managed care. It also established new Medicaid managed mental health care plans called Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs). To this date, Michigan's public mental health system is still made up of a network of CMHSPs and PIHPs. 

For decades, people in Michigan have taken pride in their public mental health system, which has been recognized as one of the best in the nation. However, Michigan mental health advocates fear that the state is losing ground after making several cuts to funding for public mental health services throughout the 2010s. Michigan's PIHPs and CMHSPs increasingly focus on providing services to people who have or who qualify for Medicaid, though some funds remain to help cover the cost of care for people without insurance who don't qualify for Medicaid.

Except in Michigan's three most populous counties (Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland), PIHPs and CMHSPs are separate organizations. While PIHPs develop and oversee regional networks of Medicaid-funded mental health providers, CMHSPs directly provide state-funded mental health services. Many CMHSPs in Michigan offer counseling and other outpatient care. However, funds are limited and services are prioritized for people who have severe mental illness. There are currently 10 PIHPs and 46 CMHSPs in Michigan.

In addition to directly providing services, CMHSPs contract with other local providers to ensure that people in their area have access to a full range of mental health services and multiple options for care. Independent clinics and practitioners who contract with the state often accept a wider range of clients than county programs, including people with mild or moderate mental health conditions. Many of them accept private insurance plans and offer sliding scale fees to people who don't have insurance and who don't qualify for state funding.

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