Reflecting on our first 100 days

Resources from the Washtenaw County Mental Health and Public Safety Preservation Millage first became available on January 1, 2019.

In this email, we highlight some of the work accomplished in the first 100 days of the millage, as well as examples of work in process and on the horizon.
More services, all residents
On May 1, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH) will begin to offer services and service-navigation assistance to all county residents, regardless of their ability to pay.

Services will include individual and group counseling, medication management, substance use treatment and recovery support, and referrals to helpful community resources.

WCCMH will offer these services to any county resident who is unable to get timely care and will serve these residents until they can be referred to appropriate community partners. Read more.

"So far the CARES team has been amazing. Primarily the strengths have been the timely appointments, good response time, and most importantly a "can do" attitude regarding complex cases." Dr. Victor Hong, Medical Director, Psychiatry Emergency Services, Michigan Medicine
Plan and integrate
Substance use initiative planning
About a dozen Washtenaw County Community Mental Health staff members have been actively participating in a series of local meetings, sponsored by the Washtenaw Health Initiative, that are designed to develop a collaborative action plan to address substance use in our county.

At these meetings, our staff are working with others to identify root causes of substance use; to outline core values that should influence the county's substance use prevention, treatment, and support system; to map the county's existing response system; and to suggest ways it can be improved.

At the final meetings, which will take place in May, participants will collaborate on an action plan including what to do, how to fund it, and how to see it through. Read more.
Youth services planning
As one of several initiatives targeted to support Washtenaw County youth, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health has been working with community partners including the Corner Health Center, Ozone House, and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District to explore new ways we can support justice-involved youth with mental health and substance use conditions.

In March, we worked with the Sheriff’s Office to sponsor a 1.5-day workshop that engaged five-dozen individuals from two-dozen Washtenaw County organizations in developing an action plan to improve local services related to justice-involved youth with mental health and substance use conditions. With facilitation from the National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice, participants established key values that should guide future work, mapped existing community resources, and outlined a number of unmet needs and opportunities.

A new youth subcommittee of Washtenaw County’s existing Mental Health Criminal Justice Diversion Advisory Council will explore ways millage dollars can be invested to respond to these needs, to catalyze local change, and to improve services and programs for youth with mental health and substance use conditions and their families. Read more.  

“This [mapping project] is a big win not just for the court, but for the community as a whole, because these are all of our kids.” Linda Edwards-Brown, Juvenile Court Administrator, Washtenaw County Trial Court
Anti-stigma campaign
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health is working with the Washtenaw County Health Department to develop and launch a county-wide campaign to reduce stigma around mental health and addiction. Health department staff will begin their work with a campaign targeted toward our county’s youth. The campaign will evolve and target different audiences over the next two years.
The health department is now in the process of identifying community organizations and stakeholders to interview or include in regional focus groups (at least one in eastern Washtenaw, at least one other on the west side of the county). These individuals—including teens, families, and those who work with them closely—will help the department build and refine a campaign that is designed to reach and resonate with our county’s youth.
To suggest focus group participants, share resources that can inform the work, give examples of anti-stigma campaigns that you do or don’t like, or get involved, contact Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, communications manager at the Washtenaw County Health Department, at .
Expand services
Collaborations with the sheriff's office
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH) is working with the sheriff’s office to better serve incarcerated adults with mental health and substance use disorders and to prevent more of these individuals from entering the criminal justice system in the first place.

With millage funds, WCCMH will provide “managing mental health crisis” trainings for all local officers and will assign staff to collaborative teams that handle crisis negotiations and interventions that involve adults with mental health and substance use disorders. In addition, WCCMH will work with community partners to expand support services for recently released inmates with mental health and substance use conditions . Read more.
Stretching millage dollars
Last summer, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health applied for a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand local behavioral health services for uninsured and underinsured individuals. In December, we learned that we had been awarded the grant.

This two-year grant will provide new resources for case management, outpatient mental health and substance use services, patient-centered treatment, and other activities. And, in keeping with Community Mental Health Advisory Committee recommendation #11, it taps into outside funding streams to leverage the county's millage resources.
Rural service delivery
Over the last three months, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health staff have had many conversations with policymakers, decision leaders, and community-based mental health and substance use treatment providers in Chelsea, Manchester, and Dexter. The focus: Identifying existing locations to use as a home base for WCCMH staff to offer treatment and crisis response services in the county's rural areas.

While we had originally hoped to announce two new rural service locations this March, we are continuing conversations with key partners with the hopes of securing locations by May 1. In the meantime, we have partnered with St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea and their community outreach efforts to bring case management support to these rural communities.
More to come
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health staff are continuing to work with community partners to develop plans for additional service expansions, as recommended by the Community Mental Health Advisory Committee. These will include community outreach programs, youth treatment and prevention services, substance use treatment and prevention programs, supportive housing services, and other supports.

Once needs are understood and plans are developed for these additional service expansions, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health will be seeking proposals from qualified community organizations that wish to provide these required services.
Communicate, educate, engage
Mental health first aid: Training trainers
While many of us know how to administer first aid for health conditions, few of us are trained to provide similar help for those experiencing a mental health or substance use related crisis. To build community capacity, WCCMH regularly offers Mental Health First Aid training sessions for individuals with no prior experience in mental health and substance use diagnosis or treatment.

During standard eight-hour courses, participants learn how to recognize the symptoms of common mental illnesses and substance use disorders; safely de-escalate crisis situations; and initiate timely referrals to local resources. These courses are currently scheduled for June 7 (adult focus), June 21 (youth focus), August 23 (youth focus), September 13 (adult focus), November 15 (youth focus), and December 6 (adult focus). Read more.

With Mental Health and Public Safety Millage dollars, WCCMH is now developing a series of "train the trainer" Mental Health First Aid courses that we hope will multiply the impact throughout the community. Staff from the National Council for Behavioral Health will come to Washtenaw County to offer the week-long training programs (one focused on working with adults; the other focused on working with youth).

These intensive courses will prepare WCCMH staff and staff from community partner organizations including schools, mental health provider organizations, faith-based communities, and others to teach the standard eight-hour community courses going forward.
And remember
If you or someone you know needs support, contact us 24/7 at 734-544-3050 or 1-800-440-7548.