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“Your Mind Matters” are the first words you see when you open Washtenaw County’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s new mental health resource booklet, Taking Care.
Even though mental illnesses are very common—one in five Americans live with a mental illness—stigma against mental illness persists in communities like Washtenaw County. And unfortunately, stigma can deter people from asking for help. But the booklet emphasizes that mental health is a lot like physical health—if you care for it, you can thrive.
The booklet provides detailed information about how mental health care can help and how to get connected to local services.
For example, the booklet highlights that initiating treatment for mental illnesses can be challenging—even scary. The process can take time and effort. But finding a mental health professional that fits your needs can make a huge difference in your life.
Even if you aren’t in need of mental health care, the guide provides advice about how to talk to a loved one about starting treatment.
In addition, Taking Care shares:
What to expect when you call Washtenaw County Community Mental Health’s 24/7 ACCESS line (734-544-3050) like what services they can provide and what questions they might ask.
Information on NAMI’s services, like the organization’s no-cost educational programs and support groups.
Tips on getting started with a therapist, like being honest about your needs when you search for a therapist and bringing questions to your first session.
What to do if you or someone you care about is in crisis, like calling 911 if someone is a danger to themselves or others or calling the CARES team at (734-544-3050) to get connected with a trusted mental health professional.
Information about patient rights, like laws that require providers to get a patient’s consent before sharing the patient’s mental health records.
Frequently asked questions, like what if I need mental health care but don’t have health insurance? And what is the mobile crisis response team?
And a comprehensive local resource guide that includes information on topics like helplines, educational resources, disabilities services, psychiatric emergency rooms, support groups, therapists, and more.
Under each category, NAMI-WC links to local resources available to help people in need.
“While there are still many areas for improvement in mental health care, the one constant we noticed was that people were unaware of the resources that already exist,” says Maria Alfonso, a project manager at NAMI Washtenaw County .
“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 this guide will give them the tools they need.”
The number of individuals seeking support for mental health in Washtenaw County is rising. For example, the number of calls WCCMH’s crisis team is responding to has increased rapidly. Historically, the crisis team answered between 5,000 – 6,000 calls per month on average. But, in September, the crisis team answered 8,284 incoming calls.
NAMI Washtenaw County Executive Director, Judy Gardner, sees the resource booklet and website as a part of a larger outreach effort in the community. "'What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation' is one of my favorite quotes from Glen Close. I see this Resource Manual as the beginning of a community conversation."
On October 27, 2022, NAMI-WC hosted a community event, You Are Not Alone: Community Stories of Mental Health, which welcomed around one hundred people. Three community members with lived experience shared personal stories about their journey with mental health.
Ken Duckworth, author of You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health―With Advice from Experts and Wisdom from Real People and Families, distributed signed copies of the book.
And NAMI Washtenaw County disseminated print copies of the booklet, Taking Care.
Taking Care was made possible thanks to funding from the Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation millage.