Mental Health in Michigan moves into the home

by Barbara Lewis 16. April 2010 14:34

(Source: Public News Service - MI) Mental health workers fought it, but many now embrace the end results. A decade ago, then Michigan Governor John Engler closed most state mental hospitals because of budget constraints, forcing many patients into group home settings. And in recent years, case workers have been transitioning from group to in-home programs that allow patients, especially kids, to stay with their families.

Tammy Hynes, program manager for Lutheran Social Services in mid-Michigan, says case workers are able to customize care for kids with disabilities or mental illness and provide support for their parents when they live at home.

"It's a world of difference. I mean, just think about it: it's a much better social environment, you have one-on-one care, you have the feel of family. It's not an institutional setting. An institutional setting is not a personalized setting."

Hynes says keeping clients at home is proving to be much more cost effective than operating group homes or institutions.

"If we can keep kids from going into institutions, keep a healthy relationship with the mom, or whatever that parental unit is, my gosh, what a job we are doing."

Hynes says the program has doubled in size in the last three years. Lutheran Social Services contracts with the federal and state governments to provide the in-home care.

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