Mental Health Programs In Michigan

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to media artifact(s) giving background on the issue. Please list the title of the artifact(s) and then make the title(s) a link to the page in the MSC site where the artifact has been posted. You may include media artifacts made by other MSC members, if relevant, even if they are not authors of this proposal.

Mental Health Programs in Michigan By Sarah Neckritz & Sam Striar 2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Philip Brown Age: 13 Years Old School/occupation: Troy Middle School Location: Troy, Michigan   Quote: "Going to school everyday is really hard for me because I constantly feel depressed and anxious.  My parents want to help me but they both work two jobs and don't have the money to get me help and my school does not have any programs".   About:
  • Has four siblings
  • Parents work two jobs and are not home
  • Has a good support system, close with his siblings and parents
  • Wants to be successful in high school to get an athletic scholarship to college
  • Wants to be more social with his soccer team before entering high school
  • Focus more on mental health and getting resources to prepare for high school


POV Statement:
  • User : Philip, an insecure 13 year old middle school honors student and athlete
  • Need : needs help and support to feel more secure with his image and cope with his anxiety
  • Insight : because he lacks the resources and guidance to cope with his mental health and isn't able to understand his emotions and mental health state on his own.
  3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Create a pen pal system through the University of Michigan and local Michigan middle schools: 

1. The University of Michigan has great mental health services. We propose partnering with Wolverine Support Network (WSN).  According to WSN, “there are two critical barriers to improving mental health and well-being on college campuses. First is the dialogue. Social norms and stigma overpower awareness and honest conversation. Second is the form, accessibility, and cost of available resources. Our Peer Support Model eliminates social stigmas, financial burdens, and accessibility concerns”.  By partnering with WSN we know we have a reliable and proven network.

2. Partnering with Wolverine Support Network allows students to have a free resource to get help.  University of Michigan students can go through WSN to get credit for school, while also enabling them to develop relationships that are beneficial for both parties.

3. Students will write back and forth creating a connection and speaking about what is going on in their lives.  These letters can be either anonymous or between two known people, so it gives both types of students the chance to participate.

4.  We propose college juniors and seniors to participate in the program after they have completed at least one year of  the peer group circles through WSN. It will be encouraged that the students are a peer leader, so they know how to facilitate. 

5. According to a study at the University of Cambridge, mentoring can reduce anxiety.  “Mentoring relationships appeared to provide an organisational mechanism to prompt supervisor and colleague interactions, which in turn facilitated a reduction in the mentors' anxiety."  This beneficial relationship encourages mentors to participate in the program.


Mental health screenings are typically done in at the doctor’s office every year during a student’s physical. However, students in lower income areas might not be visiting their doctor on a regular basis to get this screening done. The government should give public middle schools the resources to conduct these screenings on a semester basis to ensure that if a student is having mental health issues it can be detected properly and at no cost. University of Michigan has many resources available for mental health screenings.  If these types of programs can be implemented in middle schools around Michigan, it gives students an anonymous and free way to get access to screenings.  If the cost ends up being too high then the schools can funnel their students to Michigan.

SOLUTION 3: Add mental health to the health curriculum of middle schools in order to destigmatize and help children to understand the importance of mental health.

1. The bill passed in both New York and Virginia, both involved mental health.  This year, New York and Virginia are going to be the first two states to pass laws that require mental health education, which will be integrated into the curriculum K through 12 in New York and 9 to 10 in Virgina.  This has been beneficial to the communities and showcases how New York and Virginia both are at the forefront of mental health. 

2.  Propose a pilot program in a few local communities to add to the curriculum and see how the students respond to it.  One program could be in a suburban community, one could be rural community, and one could be urban. More specifically, these programs will encompass both high income and low income areas. 

3. This curriculum would destigmatize mental health and allow students to feel more comfortable with discussing how they are feeling.  If they are taught about mental health in class, it opens doors for students to talk to teachers and other students.  

4. There would be no extra cost to add mental health to the curriculum and the students will get the services that they need.  The health teachers already have a curriculum in place and can have a training session to make sure each teacher has the same guidelines.  If one program needs to be cut, it can be one that the districts think is the least beneficial for the students.  Or, they can implement one extra class throughout the semester.

5. In addition to guidance counselors earning a mental health certification, teachers (more specifically health teachers) should also go through a required training to know the warning signs of mental health disorders. ​Teachers​ are the ones who spend the most time with the students so they should be prepared to intervene when they see fit, as well as the health teachers so students have as many resources as possible.


Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

2019 Senate Bill 41: Require teacher “mental health first aid” training. This bill states that teachers must learn how to identify warning signs of mental illness in their students, as well as “know strategies” for the students to help an individual who is experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will give students in Michigan the mental health support that they are in need of. By having guidance counselors and faculty in the schools provided with higher training and qualifications, students will have many more resources to go to in a time of need and support. Also, these professionals will help to take the stigma out of mental health for students who are unsure what it is. 

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

During our preliminary research of mental health, we found that mental health in Michigan was significantly more common in youth than it is overall in the United States. We found that a larger percentage of children suffer from mental health disorders in Michigan, and are not provided with the help and guidance they need to address these issues. We came across many statistics and charts that we shared in the infographic that shows the comparison between the state of Michigan versus the United States overall.    

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Both of our service activities has inspired us with the proposal. We have been interacting with the Michigan community and have realized that one necessity, food, is lacking in these families lives, and we started to wonder what else is also. This led us to do research on Michigan students and their mental health statistics and ways to receive support, which influenced us to propose an idea for them to have more resources and help in school ensuring good mental health for them.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Mental Health Programs in Michigan By Sarah Neckritz & Sam Striar


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Amed Prado, a Berkeley Law Legal Fellow for Young Minds Advocacy and Seneca Family of Agencies, and told us that "mental health in school systems is vitally important as mental health advocacy works best when it is the most accessible.  By that, [he means] adolescents tend to spend a lot of time in school, and having mental health programming as available as possible can be beneficial".  After this we presented some of our ideas and he said, "mental health should be added to the curriculum to educate students on what they or someone they know could be going through.  Emotional sensitivity can be learned, and sometimes children may not be equipped with the language to understand what they or someone they know is going through".  Amed then concluded by saying "in the end, it is most important to bring people together to challenge the mental health stigma". 

CONSULTATION 2: We had the chance to sit down with Sydney Malkin, a junior studying Organizational Studies in Wolverine Support Network at the University of Michigan.  Sydney is a group leader and we wanted to find out more about how WSN helps adolescents and how it helps with mental illness.  She told us that "WSN could help adolescents find an open space to talk about any struggles or hard times they’re going through. Adolescence has a lot of ups and downs, and finding that support network through WSN that provides a safe, comfortable, confidential environment could be really helpful and beneficial in their growth and in finding a new community”.  We then asked Sydney how WSN has impacted her, “WSN gives me one hour per week to reflect on the chaos surrounding me as a college student and has provided me with the tools to prioritize my mental health. I can confidently say that joining WSN has been the best decision I’ve made in college and I think that other communities and groups of people, of all ages, could benefit from this kind of environment”. 

CONSULTATION 3: For our third consultation, we had the chance to talk to Sarah’s guidance counselor from Staples High School, Victoria Capozzi.  When we spoke with her we wanted to find out more about the resources available at Staples High School.  She said, “Mental health is super important in our district, as there have been many deaths related to mental health in our district.  That is why we have adopted mental health into our curriculum and make sure it is taught to all high school students from freshman year to senior year”.   She then went on to explain how middle schoolers also get mental health training, especially in eighth grade since they are about to embark on a new journey.  “Middle schoolers brains are still developing but we want them to be able to get exposure to these issues early on”.  Victoria also talked about how all the guidance counselors at Sarah’s high school are trained and equipped with the resources they need to help students.  Overall, talking to Sarah’s guidance counselor showed us how important it is to have mental health part of the school system is, especially at a young age and when students are most vulnerable.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

We have had a lot of great reaction from both students and topic coordinators.  Devin McIntyre, a topic coordinator, has been really helpful throughout our proposal.  Devin helped us think about our ideas in ways that we didn't know about before, expanding our ideas and allowing for our proposal to be even more thought out.  One specific example of this was after the first draft of our Final Proposal.  Devin wrote, "... for funding, great job in considering a way to minimize the cost to the state. There may be some pushback on the funding as the costs are not just the training course, you will also have to include teacher pay during the training. How can you sell this idea to the state that the costs are minimal compared to the outcome? It may be helpful to consider how the upfront costs can eliminate some state funding for future mental health treatment".  This got us thinking about more ways to deal with funding, and we actually added on to our original cost structure to include how minimal the costs are compared to the outcome and how teachers won't have to be paid any extra for attending the session.  Overall, we really enjoyed Devin's contributions to our proposal since he has a lot of experience and helped us refine some of our ideas.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

At the beginning of Caucus we did not know where to start.  We had so many ideas and didn’t know where we wanted to create positive change in the state of Michigan.  After the provocations, we sat down to decide what our media artifact should be about.  We began our research online and by looking at the articles posting that related to different topics ranging from mental health, to sports programs, to the disadvantages of technology, and gender issues within school systems.  After a lot of debate, we found the most compelling evidence and were most passionate about  mental health in the state of Michigan.  For our media artifact, we came across a few scary statistics and possible changes with new legislation.  Sarah got ahead and did the three consultations while Sam focused on finding a bill to reference and make our proposal even stronger.  We spoke with three amazing individuals who definitely helped to narrow down our ideas.  We wanted to speak with a wide range of occupations and the three most impactful were Amed Prado, from Young Minds Advocacy, which Michael told us to reach out to during our meeting.  We also got to speak to Sydney Malkin, a leader of Wolverine Support Network at Michigan, and we also got to speak with Victoria Capozzi, Sarah’s guidance counselor from high school.  All of them gave us great insights and made us realize why choosing mental health as our topic is so important.  After our initial brainstorming session we always had one idea for our proposal, which was to increase mental health awareness among school systems.  After our initial meeting with Michael, we did change our POV Statement to accurately reflect our Persona and made sure that the details described a middle school student and not high school.  Overall, our consultations helped us refine our ideas and helped us narrow our focus even further.  We are so glad we got to interview such amazing people who all come from different background but all want the same thing for mental health in the State of Michigan.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

We both wanted to make sure that the work was divided up equally.  Therefore, we made sure to meet up multiple times throughout the semester and did the work together.  For the Media Artifact, Sarah was in charge of getting the facts and finding aspects that worked well to create a great picture of the problem, while Sam was in charge of creating the actual infographic and submitting it online.  Whenever we needed new data, we met up and found the data together, making sure the sources were reputable and that the data was accurate and what we needed to further our proposal. Sam found the bill that we needed for the proposal and Sarah was in charge of the consultations.  Since we both have a lot of other work, we decided that this was the best way to use our time and also both have an equal impact on the proposal. When it came time to do the formal proposal, we met up again and did the whole thing together. We wanted to make sure both of our voices were heard and that  we both knew exactly what was being put into it. We both filled out the preambulatory clauses, operative clauses, addressed the counterarguments, and costs/funding. We always made sure to check over the spelling and grammar of our proposal and that our language was used in the best possible way. We also both look over the comments on our proposal and make changes to the proposal accordingly.


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... Currently there is no law that states that schools must have mental health programs as part of their curriculum.

WHEREAS.... Depression symptoms for two or more weeks in a row for high school students in Michigan is 37%, which is 6% higher than the U.S. average.

WHEREAS.... The percent of high school students who have thought about attempting suicide is 4% higher than the national average.

WHEREAS.... 1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition, that is over 40 million Americans.

WHEREAS.... Youth mental health is worsening, 63% are left with no or insufficient treatment.

WHEREAS.... There exists a stigma around mental health disorders which prevents individuals suffering to reach out to receive treatment.

WHEREAS.... About 84,000 adolescents aged 12-17 (10.6% of all adolescents) per year in 2013-2014 had at least one Major Depressive Episode (MDE)

WHEREAS.... 68% of primary care physicians reported that availbaility of mental ehalth services in their community was inadequite for children. 

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. All middle schools in Michigan should be legally mandated to have mental health as part of their curriculum. All professionals in that district must be trained to also help deal with and detect mental health issues as they develop.  This training will be implemented statewide. For districts that do not have a health curriculum in place, these sessions will be implemented into their English classes five times throughout the year, lowering costs to get these programs in place and the costs associated with creating an entirely new department.

2. By having mental health taught and discussed in schools, it will lead to a more open conversation about mental illness among children and lessen the stigma around it.  This in turn, will increase awareness before students enter high school, causing the statistics we stated above to decrease and bring more awareness to the community.  This awareness before students enter high school will help prepare students and staff with stress and mental health activities they can do, lowering potential costs, as well as statistics.

3. A pilot program will be put in a few local communities.  They will add this change to the curriculum and see how the students respond to it.  One program will be in a suburban community, one will be rural community, and one will be urban.  This will make sure students are open to change and make sure that the training for both teachers and guidance counselors is beneficial.  After research we will place three pilot progarms in Bloomfield Hills Middle School (suburban), Bellaire Middle School (rural), and Detriot's Munger Middle School (urban).

4. Require all schools to follow specific guidelines when comforting middle schoolers, during training, and implementing the mental health curriculm into classes.


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. By discussing mental health on the daily, this will make it more prevalent in these students lives, causing them to think more about it.

2. Liability for the school increases when adding mental illness for the conversation. Schools may not want to deal with this.

3. It will take time to train the teachers for this curriculum, and they may not want to take the time to do that.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The cost and funding of our proposal is something we really focused on.  In our meeting with Micahel we discussed that this is the most challenging part of the proposal so we wanted to keep the costs as low as possible.  Because each district will implement this program, the costs will be associated with each district directly. We believe the costs of this proposal will be relatively low as we are not changing much in the system.  For schools that already have a health system in place, we will just add these classes to the curriculum. For schools that don’t have these programs in place, we will place emphasis on this topic in their English class.  The main cost is going to be the training for the professionals who will receive training on mental health and getting their certification, but this will be on the basis of how much staff is in each middle school. For example, the Mental Health First Aid group that does provide these training services. These classes cost about $20.00 per person, so that would be the cost for people who are not trained, hopefully not including guidance counselors since they will already be trained in many areas.  There won’t be any indirect expenses except for the time it takes the professionals to get their licenses. If schools require teachers to do this, which could take place during the first week of training, then it won’t take any extra time and it will be easy to get the training done.  For teacher pay, we will be able to minimize this cost by implementing this into training that is already in place.  By doing this, we won't have schools incur any additional costs, but rather refine their trainings and make them more useful for the entire district.  The upfront costs, about $20 per teacher certified, are going to be minimal and once that is done, there aren't other costs that need to be shed by the schools.  Being able to help middle schoolers better prepare for high school and be more aware about mental health before they get to high school.  This will help lower costs in the high school too, which can lower the overall district costs in the long run.


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Total votes: 4