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Genesee Health System details $9.4 million mental health millage request

GHS is asking for the price of a gallon of milk per week on the May 4th ballot.
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (4/8/2021) - The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health around the world. That crisis on the heels of Flint’s water crisis has Genesee Health Systems seeing an increased need for their services.

That’s why GHS is asking for a “yes” vote on their millage this May.

“Some people would say it’s a worse time to be asking individuals to pay more money,” GHS CEO Dan Russell said. “I would counter that with I think it’s the absolute best time to be seeking funds for these types of services.”

Services that will increase Genesee Health System’s ability to help those in a mental health crisis.

Russell explained they’re preparing for what the national experts call an “echo pandemic.”

“Because of everything that’s been happening and people haven’t been able to get out for services,” he said. “There’s going to be a tremendous spike in demand for services --  mental health, substance use and domestic violence and just all those things that have been kept bottled up.”

GHS is mostly Medicaid-funded, but only if an individual qualifies. Russell said that’s difficult.

So over the years they’ve been forced to pull from the General Fund and that pot is getting smaller and smaller.

This millage on the May 4th ballot is expected to generate $9.4 million a year for 10 years.

Russell said it’ll cost the average property owner less than the price of a gallon of milk per week. Those dollars will spread out across seven different categories. A large portion will fund crisis intervention training for police in Genesee County.

“I think you’ve seen an increase in fatalities when dealing with mentally ill,” Flint Police Chief Terence Green said. “And were on board with anything that can be used, any type of training that would be something other than using physical force or things of that nature.”

He explained his officers encounter people daily who are suffering from mental illness.

Part of the millage will also go toward hiring mental health experts who can respond to those calls with them.

“Fortunately we have not had anything quite that horrible in Genesee County, but that can be the next call, that could be the next, you know, issue that comes up. We just want to make sure that we do what we can to make sure that the county and law enforcement is ready when those things happen,” Russell added.

For more information on the millage before you head to the polls in May or cast your absentee ballot, click here.

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