Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH) recently shared a report on the positive impacts
the county's Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage had in 2022.
The millage generates approximately $6 million annually for mental health services. Investments made in 2022 expanded local access to mental health and substance use care, housed 250 previously homeless individuals, and established jail-based behavioral health services. Additionally, mental health professionals were integrated into 911 dispatch response, youth support in schools was increased, and community education aimed at reducing stigma and supporting access to care was provided.
WCCMH, the county’s public mental health agency, administers millage funds.
"Mental health needs have sort of been traditionally underfunded across the United States," says Lisa Gentz, WCCMH program administrator. "... What we’re trying to do with the millage funds is trying to make sure that people have early access to treatments and [are] able to easily navigate the mental health system so that they can get connected at the right time to the right services that they need."
Without the millage, WCCMH would be unable to serve many local residents, as state criteria limit the agency's service to Medicaid enrollees with severe mental illness, severe emotional disturbance, and emergency needs. However, the millage funds have allowed WCCMH to serve the community more comprehensively, including uninsured and privately insured residents with inadequate mental health coverage.
The impact report showcases the positive results of investments in five key areas: mental health service expansion, housing and mental health services for homeless individuals, criminal justice reform, youth mental health services, and mental health prevention and education.
The millage investments also benefit community agencies across the county, including Avalon Housing
, the Corner Health Center,
and the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Washtenaw County
, enabling them to expand their programs and support more people in need.
"I think we are so fortunate to be able to have these funds available to meet mental health needs in our community," Gentz says. "It really is special, what we have here in Washtenaw County and the creative ways that we are able to utilize these funds to meet needs."
Layla McMurtrie is a recent Eastern Michigan University graduate and former editor-in-chief of The Eastern Echo. She has a passion for arts and culture and hopes to tell the stories of underrepresented Michigan residents.
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