MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: One-Stop Shopping for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

Mike Vizena, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards
Mike Vizena, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards

By Mike Vizena

Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards

Over the course of the past year, substance use treatment agencies have been integrated into the existing community mental health system, as required by recent legislation. The merging of these services has streamlined the process for those seeking support and has proved to be a great benefit to Michiganders with substance use disorders and/or mental illness.

Addictions and disorders are indeed very different diseases and every instance is unique, but those affected by mental health and substance use disorders work toward recovery in similar ways. Both face stigma, misunderstanding and barriers to success. Integrating the services for these individuals offers a smoother transition toward recovery for both mental health and substance use consumers.

The goal of this transition is to modernize the process of serving consumers of substance use and mental health services. Almost half of consumers of substance use services also have a mental health issue. In the past, a consumer seeking both substance use and mental health treatments would be required to seek out support through two entirely separate systems. Integrating substance use support and mental health services into the same system will better serve people who seek substance use treatment.

Great care was taken in the implementation of this new system of care to avoid losing sight of the fact that substance use disorders are unique conditions, requiring treatments specific to the signs and symptoms those with substance use disorders experience. In merging, Substance Use Disorder Oversight Policy Boards were created within the mental health system to provide direction, insight and oversight of the substance use disorder treatments, prevention and recovery services throughout the state.

All in all, integrating substance use and mental health treatments saves consumers time and resources while they seek treatment. The merge of these services will continue to ease the process for those seeking support. To learn more, please visit www.macmhb.org. To get help for mental health disorders or substance use disorders, call West Michigan Community Mental Health at 1-800-992-2061.

Mike Vizena is executive director of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards.