Prevention and Education

The millage reduces stigma against mental illnesses and encourages help seeking behavior. Through partnerships with the local school district, Washtenaw’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and others, the millage shows those struggling that they are not alone.

Even though it’s becoming more common to discuss mental health, most of us have lived without talking about it for years. All of a sudden, we have a number of people who are more aware and willing to address their mental health, but they don’t know where to go. We hope that our new millage-funded mental health guide will give them the tools they need.”

– Judy Gardner, Executive Director, NAMI WC

First aid for your brain.

Since November 2020, millage funds have been used to train local residents to become Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructors. Instructors teach vital mental health response skills to the community.

Participants learn how to assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis, and how to connect them with the support they require.

Millage funding has increased the number of trainers, and also trained more people from historically underrepresented communities. This is essential, given how important it is for people to receive mental health information from people within their own community.

Three people talking with a Sheriff Officer

31 people trained as MHFA trainers since the program launched.

Trainers taught 8 adult and 13 youth courses, reaching 305 individuals.

Mental Health First Aid trainers are teaching our community how to respond to those in need

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What students wish you knew.

The millage-funded #WishYouKnew campaign combats mental health stigma among youth, parents, and educators.

The campaign features portraits of community members–youth, educators, and mental health professionals–commissioned from a local artist. With each portrait are quotes from the community member about something they “wish you knew” about mental health.

#WishYouKnew messages have appeared on television, Spotify, billboards, buses, and more. Some of the quotes share difficult thoughts that youth are experiencing, some share information about mental health services, and some share messages of encouragement.

Large key hole illustration with people making decisions.

3,000+ people reached by the #WishYouKnew online campaign.

Anti-stigma materials shared at New Parkridge, YpsiWrites, etc.

Breaking the stigma: How the mental health millage is empowering youth to reach out

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NAMI: Building community and breaking stigma

Washtenaw County’s branch of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI WC) began in 1984; it was a natural fit for NAMI to work with Washtenaw County’s first mental health millage. Over the years, with millage funding, NAMI has hosted events to increase mental health awareness among faith-based leaders, break down stigma against mental illnesses, and facilitate online support groups. At the core of this partnership is outreach—NAMI works to reach communities that have historically been discouraged from talking about mental health needs.

In 2022, NAMI shared a comprehensive guide to mental health and local mental health resources called Taking Care: A guide to mental health for everybody. The group hosted an event to promote the guide, featuring presentations from people with lived experience, NAMI leaders, and community members. 

Two people from Washtenaw county's Crisis Negotiation Team

550 Taking Care guides shared in November and December 2022.

Presenting NAMI Washtenaw County's local resource guide, Taking Care.

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Millage funding helps NAMI build relationships and trust in Washtenaw County communities

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Preventing unnecessary emergency department transports.

Washtenaw County Community Mental Health’s (WCCMH) crisis team uses a trauma-informed framework to respond to crises. The goal: to respond with compassion, make appropriate connections to ongoing care, and prevent costly, disruptive, and unnecessary emergency department visits. 

Recent data demonstrates that when CMH is involved in crisis response, patients are less likely to be taken to the emergency department. Instead, patients receive “on the spot” care, with transportation to the home of a family member or friend and follow up in the community. In 2021, 45 percent of law enforcement crisis calls were transported to the emergency department, compared to 23 percent of CMH calls.

WCCMH helps educate police about the warning signs of behavioral health crises, and participates in a co-response pilot with WCSO deputies to ensure that both public safety and mental health concerns are addressed in concert. 

Three people talking with a Sheriff Officer

Police receive advanced training in mental health signs and symptoms.

Fewer crisis calls transported to the emergency department.

New co-response pilot with mental health professionals.

West side coalition ramps up.

In 2019, 5 Healthy Towns Foundation, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, Michigan Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine, and Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, began to discuss the community’s approach to mental health. Together, they launched One Big Thing, an initiative that aims to increase mental health and well-being and prevent mental health crises and substance dependence. 

In 2022, the collaborative established three action committees focused on 1) social isolation and sense of purpose, 2) health-related social needs, and 3) alcohol and other drugs.

While One Big Thing is led by 5 Healthy Towns and other community partners, Washtenaw County's millage initiatives program administrator is deeply involved in this work, leading one of the three action committees and convening community members.  

Large key hole illustration with people making decisions.

One Big Thing places more emphasis on behavioral health.

One Big Thing focuses on loneliness, substance use, and social needs.

Millage partners with 5 Healthy Towns to tackle mental health needs of western Washtenaw County

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Integration of health insurance and mental health care.

The nonprofit Washtenaw Health Project works to expand access to healthcare for vulnerable populations through support, such as helping residents navigate the health insurance enrollment process.

In addition, the Washtenaw Health Project operates the Washtenaw Health Plan, health coverage for residents who do not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or other affordable health insurance plans.

With millage funding, the Washtenaw Health Plan connects health plan members—who speak many different languages—to  mental health providers, including the millage-funded CARES team at Washtenaw County Community Mental Health. 

Two people from Washtenaw county's Crisis Negotiation Team

More collaboration with Washtenaw county mental heath providers.

62 un- and under-insured individuals connected to mental health care.

286 appointments with WCCMH and other mental health providers. 

To access millage-funded services,
call 1-734-544-3050