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Community Mental Health - Millage News

Posted on: November 1, 2023

Millage Advisory Committee approves additional funding for the Washtenaw Health Project


The Millage Advisory Committee approved additional funding for the Washtenaw Health Project. $165,000 in funding will allow the Washtenaw Health Project to continue and expand efforts to ensure mental health care is accessible to all, particularly those who face language and insurance barriers.

About the Washtenaw Health Project. 

The Washtenaw Health Project is a local safety net healthcare program, which changed its name from the Washtenaw Health Plan in September 2023.  This name change recognizes the evolution of the organization since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2014.   Today, the organization still provides coverage to people who don’t qualify for any other insurance, but that is no longer the sole focus of the organization. The name change reflects that the organization provides holistic support for people to access healthcare and health promoting services. This includes helping people sign up for health insurance, make appointments with their doctors, access medication, address unpaid medical bills, and access other benefits, like SNAP.

“The mission of the Washtenaw Health Project is to help individuals access health care and health supportive services,” says Jeremy Lapedis, executive director of the Washtenaw Health Project. “Often in our course of helping people with health insurance access, we are able to identify other needs of our members, like mental health services.” 

The Washtenaw Health Project requested millage funding in 2021 to help them achieve their mission. 

Millage funding helps the Washtenaw Health Project operate as more than just a safety net healthcare program.

In October, 2021 the Washtenaw Health Project began using millage funds to connect health plan members to mental health services and conduct outreach to Latinx youth communities. 

Specifically, millage funds were used to:  

  • Create a resource document to make receiving therapy in native languages easier. WHP created a guide that lists local providers that offer services in language other than English, tells you what insurance they offer, and how long the wait time is. The guide includes 10 different providers offering mental health therapy in 18 languages, and how to contact them.
  • Facilitate Latinx teen empowerment groups. The groups are led by clinicians and aim to build social emotional skills for Ypsi High School students. 
  • Increase mental health provider capacity and decreased wait time. Since millage funding became available, the Washtenaw Health Plan members participated in 982 mental health visits and observed a decreased wait time from 6 months before millage funding was available to 2 weeks. 
  • Create flyers in English, Spanish, Arabic and French that refer K-12 students to the WHP for mental health services navigation. These were distributed to staff listservs of Washtenaw County middle and high schools and at school resource fairs. 

In August, the Millage Advisory Committee approved additional funding for the Washtenaw Health Project.

The new funding will help the organization: 

  • Build on infrastructure to expand visits Washtenaw Health Plan members 
  • Continue Latinx Youth Empowerment Groups
  • Partner with The Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan to host a Latinx support group for Spanish-speakers
  • Continue mental health outreach in schools
  • Maintain the list of therapists who provide therapy in languages other than English
  • Continue health insurance support for individuals who need access to mental health services

“The pandemic heighted people’s awareness of mental health and the importance that community members be healthy in body and mind,” Kelly Stupple, Washtenaw Health Project program manager, said to Millage Advisory Committee members. 

“We try to reach into communities that tend to be neglected, more vulnerable, and have less access to care. We use a strength-based model to help the kids get healthier, and help their parents or guardians get access to services. It has a ripple effect that makes the whole community healthier and can reduce the likelihood that an individual interfaces with law enforcement”, explained Stupple. 

The $165,000 mileage contribution will cover two years of programming, from October 2023 - October 2025.

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