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Detroit officials seeking $227 million to expand mental health services in Metro Detroit

Black woman in therapy sits with her head in her hands as her therapist takes notes on a clipboard
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Detroit officials are planning a major expansion of mental health services in Metro Detroit. But they’re calling on state legislators to invest $227 million into the expansion.

The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network is planning to build additional crisis treatment centers with 450 more beds for people while they’re being treated, including some longer-term residences.

"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. If all of the legislators who as candidates promise to do more for mental health services, just vote for this," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said.

Metro Detroit officials want the millions of dollars for mental health services to come from the state fiscal budget, which should be approved in the next few months.

City officials say people experiencing severe mental illness often go through a "revolving door" by repeatedly utilizing insufficient treatment alternatives and the criminal justice system in Metro Detroit.

"There's no question that officers are seeing far more events that are created by mental health problems," said Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. "There are far more people committing suicide and being hurt. And by the way, officers aren't exempt from that. We're also seeing officers being traumatized significantly more by the lack of beds."

Duggan said that 1,500 Detroit residents have had more than one emergency call for mental health services to their home in the last three years. He says almost 400 are making repeated calls, averaging about 11 calls a year that police and emergency services respond to.

"What happens too often is we have a tragedy," Duggan said. "Barricaded gunman shoots his family, went through the system multiple times, and our elected officials say we need more mental health services. We've had too many times where we've had a mentally ill person kill a police officer in recent years or we've had the opposite happen where a police officer has killed an individual who'd been through the mental health system repeated times and is still on the street. It isn't fair to the community."

The $227 million funding would cover developing new programming and response teams for mental health situations as well as new inpatient and residential beds for folks experiencing mental health challenges.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.