A Public Safety and Mental Health Millage Contract of $158,000 has been awarded to NAMI Washtenaw County (NAMI WC) to design and implement a mental health education and outreach program for youth and families in the under-served communities of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and Whitmore Lake. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the largest national grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental illness and their loved ones. NAMI has been active in Washtenaw County for more than 35 years.
NAMI WC will conduct a series of focus groups to identify gaps and challenges faced by hospitals, community clinics, criminal justice agencies, housing providers, schools, religious organizations, and community mental health providers in the three communities. Then the affiliate will identify and train peer and community leaders to develop and lead activities designed to address those gaps and challenges. Activities will include NAMI signature programs, support groups, and county-wide community events.
In 2017, NAMI WC established support groups for parents of suicidal children and young adults with support from Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, Washtenaw County Public Health, and the University of Michigan Depression Center. In 2018, NAMI WC’s 70 trained peer volunteers logged more than 5,000 volunteer hours presenting mental health information in schools, colleges, and faith-based organizations. Together, they reached more than 2,400 community members including 1,500 students under the age of 18, through Peer-to-Peer education, Family-to-Family education, Mental Health Treatment Court, and Peer-to-Peer classes in the jail.
NAMI WC also oversees an Ending the Silence campaign to share mental health warning signs with students, parents, and teachers. Twenty-four trained peer volunteers have presented Ending the Silence to more than 1,700 youth and 200 teachers in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Howell, Saline, and Ypsilanti schools since 2015. And NAMI has trained over 500 people across various communities in Story Jam, a way to transform experiences into short, personal stories that maintain or change mental health policies so they can be more effective.