West Michigan CMH receives provisional state designation  

Will allow WMCMH to continue providing expanded integrated health care services

LAKE COUNTY — West Michigan Community Mental Health (WMCMH) has been provisionally designated as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration site by the State of Michigan. Full designation status is expected to be granted in December.

WMCMH has been a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic since October 2018 when it was selected as a pilot site and received a $4 million federal grant to expand and improve access to comprehensive behavioral health, physical health and substance use disorder services. The demonstration project, which officially started Oct. 1, will allow WMCMH to continue providing the expanded services without having to rely on grant funding.

“We are grateful to have received $8 million in federal grant money since 2018 to transition to the CCBHC model,” said Lisa Williams, chief executive officer at West Michigan Community Mental Health. “However, we risk losing the funding every two years as the grants expire.

"Being designated as a CCBHC demonstration site will allow us to have a sustainable financing mechanism to continue providing a broad array of high-quality, evidence-based integrated care for any person in our community living with a behavioral health problem.”

Michigan originally was not included in the CCBHC demonstration project but was added in August as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CCBHC demonstration requires West Michigan CMH to provide a comprehensive set of services including 24/7 crisis response, expanded psychiatric care for mild-to-moderate mental illness, increased access to outpatient behavioral health and substance use treatment, integrated physical and behavioral health care, and specialized services for veterans.

“This designation also allows us to serve more people,” said Brooke Felger, CCBHC project coordinator. “Previously, we were somewhat limited as far as who we could serve. As a CCBHC, our services are available to anyone regardless of where they live, their income level, or what insurance they may have.”

West Michigan CMH has seen an increase of almost 14% in the number of people served since receiving the original CCBHC grant in 2018. Last year, the agency served 3,396 unique clients at its clinics in Mason, Lake and Oceana counties.

“We are not only serving more people, we are also using the CCBHC model to reduce emergency room visits and psychiatric hospitalizations, which helps lower costs and provides better outcomes for people living with behavioral health concerns,” Felger said.

Nationwide, CCBHCs are serving about 17% more people than before implementation. According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, across all 224 active CCBHCs, there are nearly 1.5 million new people receiving behavioral health care.

One of the foundations of being a CCBHC is providing integrated, whole person care. This includes physical and behavioral health screenings, care coordination, and resources for healthy eating, weight loss, and tobacco cessation.

“The CCBHC demonstration has been very successful in other states. We are excited to see the positive impact it will have in Michigan especially as it relates to whole person integrated care,” Felger said.

For information on the services provided by West Michigan Community Mental Health, call 1-800-992-2061 or visit wmcmhs.org.