Help for mental health and substance abuse disorders is vital for a healthy community. That’s the view of Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, New York.

In January, de Blasio’s administration announced plans to offer health insurance to all New Yorkers. This proposal, known as NYC Care, would allow city residents to pay for health services on a sliding scale.

A key component of NYC Care will be care for mental health and substance abuse conditions. The mental health component is particularly important to Chirlane McCray, de Blasio’s wife, who has tackled mental health as New York’s first lady.

Guaranteed health care means guaranteed mental health care and alcohol/drug treatment,” said McCray. She said that NYC Care will include primary care providers to help refer New Yorkers to mental health services such as therapy sessions as well as programs that treat drug and alcohol abuse.

Treating substance abuse and mental illness can help people in many ways. For example, a large number of homeless people struggle with mental illness or substance abuse. This problem exists across the whole United States, not just the city of New York.

In the state of Michigan, for instance, “about two-thirds of homeless persons have a mental illness, a third have a physical disability and an estimated 29 percent have a substance-abuse issue,” said Julie Mack, citing a report from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Yet, the numbers of homeless people in Michigan have dropped because the state expanded its Medicaid program, Healthy Michigan. One wonders if they would drop even more by expanding this program and developing others. Should Michigan consider instituting a program such as NYC Care?

Initiatives such as Healthy Michigan and NYC Care can help people find treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Such help can help them keep jobs, which can help them keep their incomes and keep their homes, pay for food, obtain educations, and pursue their lives.

Assistance for mental health and substance abuse can impact many areas of people’s lives, not just their health.

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