May Stakeholders Meeting focuses on mental health and substance use

The all-member WHI Stakeholders Meeting was held on May 23 and focused on the theme of “Mental Health and Substance Use.”

These are top issues in the county, based on health department and health system assessments in recent years, said WHI Co-Chair Norman Herbert, kicking off the meeting. With the passage of the Public Safety and Mental Health Millage last November, there’s been even more discussion of these challenges, much of it organized around how the millage funds can best be invested to serve the community.

Marci Scalera, co-chair of the WHI Opioid Project and director of clinical and substance use disorder services for the Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast Michigan, followed Herbert with an update on the 3-5 year strategic plan the opioid group is designing to reduce opioid use and related overdoses and deaths in Washtenaw County. The plan will be presented at the October 15 Opioid Summit, which will offer professional development sessions for those who work in the field, and community sessions for residents who wish to learn more about the opioid epidemic and how they can help to fight it.

Carrie Rheingans discussed the WHI’s decision to engage in the ABLe Change process as a way of identifying priorities and establishing action plans to address substance use in our community. A community systems change process, ABLe Change will engage diverse perspectives as it focuses on systematic thinking, effective implementation, quick adaptation, and social justice. The first convening will be held this November. The goal: To develop implementation strategies for addressing challenges, as well as measures for monitoring success.

George Waddles Jr., senior pastor at the Second Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, gave an update on the work of the Community Mental Health Advisory Committee. Waddles was appointed to the committee earlier this year, and attended each of the Community Conversations. He provided an overview of the process by which the advisory committee has been collecting counsel and input from community members, as well as the additional research the group has conducted to inform its recommendations, which will be delivered to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners for consideration.

Then in small groups, stakeholders discussed community mental health priorities, sharing their vision for the millage investments, the needs and issues they want the advisory committee to be aware of, and the information they hope to receive from the advisory committee. These groups reported on their conversations, and the notes from those reports were shared with the Community Mental Health Advisory Committee to inform their work.

Norman Herbert introduced the newest members of the WHI Steering Committee–Dr. Ginny Creasman of the VA Ann Arbor Health System, Sharon Moore a patient representative on the board of Packard Health, and Dr. Scott Menzel of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. Then Maggie Randolph, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, provided an update on Medicaid work requirements legislation, sharing materials about how the Michigan legislation compares to that of other states, how the legislation will impact Medicaid and Healthy Michigan enrollees, and more.

A local photographer took photos during the meeting to capture the story of the WHI and the hard work of its members. Attendees were asked to notify Carrie Rheingans if they did not want their images used in WHI-related communications.

The next Stakeholders Group Meeting will be held on October 10, from 3-5 p.m., at Washtenaw Community College.

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