In May of 1961, the Michigan Senate established a special committee to study community mental health services. Based on the recommendation of the Senate special committee and with the support of the Mental Health Society, identical bills were introduced in both the House and Senate.
The act was designed to encourage the development of preventative, rehabilitative and treatment services through new community mental health programs and the improvement and expansion of existing community services. It was signed into law in 1963. This law led to the establishment of comprehensive community mental health centers throughout the country—helping people with mental illnesses who were “warehoused” in hospitals and institutions move back into their communities.
By the end of 1964, 12 counties had established community mental health programs under this act. Macomb County was one of several that established formal committees to study the other counties’ participation. Michigan became a leader in assertive community treatment, psychosocial rehabilitation and other services and supports which provide clinically appropriate community-based services and support as alternatives to hospitalization. Throughout 1967, interest grew among the boards to establish their own association. A call for membership was issued and on October 20, 1967, representatives of the act’s boards agreed to the organization of the Michigan State Association of Community Mental Health Services Boards and adopted a constitution and bylaws.
The first boards to join the association were from Bay, Berrien, Copper Country, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Saginaw and Shiawassee County. Eventually, all 83 Michigan counties established CMH services and programs.
Medicaid became the major source of funding for mental health services during the 1980s and 1990s as Michigan added clinic, home and community- based, children’s model II, habilitation, and rehabilitation coverages to its Medicaid state plan. In 2017, the name of the association was changed to the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. The new name retained the words “community mental health” to represent the association’s link to the community mental health movement that, fifty years since its genesis, is in robust and continual development.
The association has longstanding and deep partnerships with state-wide advocacy groups and associations. While too numerous to name, some of the advocacy groups with which the association regularly works include Arc Michigan, NAMI-Michigan, Mental Health Association in Michigan, Association for Children’s Mental Health, Michigan Disability Rights Organization, Michigan Protection and Advocacy, Autism Alliance of Michigan, Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, Encompass Michigan, Michigan Assisted Living Association, Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan, Michigan League for Public Policy, Michigan Health Policy Forum and more.
Today, we have expanded our services to meet behavioral, mental, physical and medical health needs. Many of our services are free to the community and are easily accessible.