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Friday, March 31, 2023

Michigan mental health public providers need staffing changes

Michigan residents with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities or substance use disorders rely on more than 100,000 mental health clinicians and direct support professionals — staff of the state’s comprehensive public mental health system — for recovery and the ability to live a full life. Due to unprecedented turnover and vacancies in mental health positions in Michigan, many individuals find themselves unable to access the treatment and support they need.  

The work of mental health clinicians and caregivers is both rewarding and challenging. Over the last decade, the pay for these professionals has not kept pace with the market, making recruitment and retention of these essential workers extremely difficult. Low wages and administrative burden have proven to be the primary driving factors of this turnover. 

Robert Sheehan

A recent survey of public mental health service providers in Michigan by our Community Mental Health Association found the average vacancy rate across mental health employers was 19%, with the vacancy rate for some mental health employers at 63%. Among direct care worker positions — providing hands-on support — the average vacancy rate was 27%, with vacancy rates for some of these employers above 85%. For these workers, the turnover rate averages 40%, with a shocking four out of every 10 workers leaving every year. This shortage has hindered the ability of the public and private mental health systems in Michigan to ensure access to care, and the proper intensity and duration of that care. 

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