Mental Health Roadsign

The Health Fund’s Behavioral Health Initiative is committed to improving access to high-quality behavioral health and substance use disorder care for people in Michigan, with specific aims to bridge health equity gaps, advance integrated care, increase cost-effectiveness, and strengthen the behavioral health workforce.

We know from research and our previous grantmaking that the most effective solutions to behavioral health challenges are ones that account for the complex interactions that people experiencing mental illness encounter in the real world.

Often, this means working across sectors and fueling cooperation among a wide range of institutions: state, local, regional, and federal governments, healthcare providers, community mental health agencies, schools, law enforcement, and even less traditional partners like libraries. We know that approaches involving only one of these sectors working in isolation are less likely to be successful. That’s why our 2023 Behavioral Health Initiative RFP emphasizes multisector strategies and solutions.

Innovations in previous grants

To help illustrate what this can look like, here are a few examples of innovative multi-sector projects we’ve funded in the past, along with their features and outcomes that we find most exciting.

iMPROve Health
Libraries as Mental Health Hubs

Supported by a grant awarded in 2021, iMPROve Health is working closely with 10 libraries in Antrim, Mason, Mecosta, Oceana, and Osceola counties to train library staff to refer patrons to behavioral health services, educate them on substance abuse issues, and reduce stigma around these conditions and seeking help.

This project also aims to place social work interns into library settings. These providers will deliver information, education, and clinical services for people experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders.

So far, participating libraries have held or scheduled mental health first aid classes for their communities, trained staff to administer naloxone, installed naloxone safety kits, hosted and promoted events to reduce stigma, and shared informational materials on substance use disorder treatments. Corewell Health clinicians are also coordinating with the libraries to provide telehealth access to people who need it using technology provided through this project.

By leveraging existing relationships between libraries and the rural communities they serve, the project is increasing availability of behavioral health support in communities where access to care may be limited. Offering this support in a familiar, trusted community setting and partnering with community organizations, like Community Mental Health, is an innovative way to reach people who may be unwilling or unable to seek care in a more traditional clinical environment.

Trinity Health, Michigan d/b/a Mercy Health Saint Mary’s
Collaborative Behavioral Health Crisis Stabilization Unit

Funded in 2021, this project integrates medical professionals, first responders, and behavioral health professionals who can screen and triage a patient to the most appropriate treatment options, all within a single, supportive, non-threatening space that’s designed to handle behavioral health crises for Kent County residents. The unit will open in 2023 at a Mercy Health Saint Mary’s clinic near downtown Grand Rapids.

This project features a unique level of care integration, along with shared management by a community mental health agency—Network 180—and a hospital system with the aim to serve all people, regardless of their insurance status.

This new, cooperative model is built to direct individuals in crisis toward appropriate care and away from settings like jails and emergency departments, which can lead to heightened anxiety, negative outcomes, and high costs. In the process, it reduces potentially harmful interactions between people in crisis and the criminal justice system, while preserving capacity at emergency departments and hospitals.

Jackson County Intermediate School District
Building a Robust System: Designing a Continuum of Behavioral Health Care for Children in Jackson County

Funded in 2019, this collaborative project has brought together schools, early childhood systems, and a wide range of behavioral health providers, agencies, and institutions with the goal to deliver streamlined and coordinated behavioral health services to children.

Through the project, the Jackson County ISD and its partners implemented a behavioral health needs assessment, introduced triage and referral processes, and provided learning opportunities for Early Childhood staff. Health Fund support has been used to hire a dedicated staff position to screen and identify children who may need additional behavioral health support, and to work with families to connect them to services and help them navigate systems.

This project addresses a clear, compelling need for behavioral health support among young children, and strengthens coordination between schools and behavioral health institutions to provide integrated care and support.

In the process, the project provides opportunities for early identification of behavioral health conditions by multiple experts from different parts of the system, along with connections to local prevention programs and treatment providers, making it easier for children and families to access the care and support they need.

Catholic Human Services
Integrated Intervention for Parents with Addictions in the Child Welfare System

Funded in 2017, Catholic Human Services’ project included the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Children’s Protective Services, courts, primary care providers, and mental health providers. Working together, these partners developed a cooperative approach to caring for parents experiencing substance use disorders in Alpena and Montmorency Counties, a region of the state where availability of behavioral health services is limited in some areas.

Through coordination and integration of care efforts, the project helped families impacted by addiction and involved with the child welfare system better navigate complex systems and access needed services.

As part of this effort, a care coordinator worked across agencies and systems—including courts, health care providers, Community Mental Health, MDHHS, and others—to help families understand treatment plan expectations and resolve barriers to meet them, with preserving the family unit as one of many goals.

This project facilitated stronger relationships among agencies in the region by increasing communication and coordination of care, while improving service provision for children in the foster care system and their families, supporting and advocating for families as appropriate.

Key Takeaways

These successful projects contain elements that applicants may want to replicate or learn from in the design of their own projects: strengthening coordination across the system, reducing gaps or roadblocks to care, building on trusted relationships to deliver support where and when it’s needed. But new projects shouldn’t try to fit these exact molds; we’re always interested in innovative models that develop new approaches to multisector collaboration.

If you are an applicant requesting support for a behavioral health project that involves partners or will have ripple effects across sectors, it’s important to illustrate in your proposal how this will work. Include descriptions of partner roles and letters of commitment within your proposal to demonstrate buy-in.

And remember we’re here to help. Contact us if you have questions about the RFP or the application process.

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