State of Michigan restructures mental and behavioral health services departments

The restructuring of the agencies will address longtime gaps, says Farah Hanley, the new chief deputy director for health.


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a restructuring of its mental and behavioral health services department. The Behavior and Physical Health and Aging Administration and the Bureau of Children’s Coordinated Health Policy and Supports aim to provide services to Michiganders of all ages and backgrounds.

Farah Hanley is the new chief deputy director for health. She will oversee the adult division. David Knezek is the chief deputy director for administration. He’ll lead the children’s division. Last year, more than $90 million was invested in children behavioral health services.

Knezek says the money will go toward “historic investments in children’s behavioral health services across the state.”

“We want to be able to expand access to home and community-based services across Michigan, as well as implement new safeguards and protections for children, youth and families that are going to require multi-year interventions and implementations,” Knezek says.

He added: “We’re trying to send a clear message that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, we view our commitment to you holistically and as an entire department.”

The pandemic highlighted health needs of Michiganders, especially when it comes mental health, Hanley says.

“We know that nearly 60% of adults with mental disorders have another medical condition. We know that excessive demand and persistent waitlists for inpatient psychiatric services exist at state-operated hospitals and at our private ones,” Hanley says.

She says MDHHS understands that there’s a lack of community-based mental health services and professionals. The restructuring of the agencies with MDHHS will address longtime gaps. “Those are all things that have not only been taking place, but we’ve also seen it just really come to light and be just exhibited further exacerbated by the pandemic.” 

Listen: New services residents can expect from the restructuring.


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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.