Access to Mental Health Services Gets a Boost

By Noah C. Hagan posted 12-09-2019 11:42


There is a mental health crisis in this country—and lack of access to mental health care (in addition to the stigma attached to seeking mental health care) is viewed as the cause of this crisis. A recent study shows that there is a similar crisis in Michigan and that a shortage of mental health providers contributes to the problem.

This fall, amidst this backdrop, LARA and the Michigan Legislature offered competing proposals affecting the authority of licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to practice. LARA proposed a rule change that would curtail LPCs’ ability to diagnose patients or use psychotherapy to treat patients. LPCs would also not qualify for insurance reimbursement. LARA held a public hearing on these proposed rule changes on October 4, at which counselors and patients spoke against the proposed rules. The proposed rule changes would have impacted an estimated 10,000 counselors and 150,000 patients.  

In mid-October, to counter the proposed rules, the House and Senate passed a bill that would allow LPCs to continue to diagnose and offer psychotherapy to patients. Governor Whitmer signed the bill on October 29. The enactment of 2019 PA 96 was the result of a concerted effort by legislators and counselors to ensure that LPCs could continue to treat their approximately 150,000 patients in this state.

Widespread access to mental health services helps lawyers too—both their clients who may be experiencing trauma and themselves. RocketMatter ran a series last year on lawyers and mental health issues, including depression and addiction. The State Bar’s Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program promotes lawyer wellness and helps lawyers find mental health and substance abuse resources.