Washtenaw County now using 24/7 hotline for substance use treatment support

Beginning January 1, 2022, Washtenaw County began utilizing a single 24/7 hotline, 734-544-3050, for any resident in need of substance use treatment support or information.The hotline is the same one used for mental health treatment support. 

Calls are answered by licensed mental health and substance use professionals at Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH), the county’s safety net provider, who can provide guidance on how to access services, give immediate screenings, and also give referrals to community-based providers.

The switch to a single point of access aligns Washtenaw with the other regional counties overseen by the Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast Michigan (CMHPSM)—Lenawee, Livingston, and Monroe—which all use their community mental health agency as the main access point for both mental health and substance use disorder services.

CMHPSM and WCCMH believe that the new 24/7 screening process will significantly speed time to treatment—and make it easier for residents to access services when they’re ready to take that step.

“We expect this change to be a huge improvement for those seeking substance use treatment,” says Trish Cortes, director of WCCMH. “Substance use needs are mental and physical health needs. People who request this support need it as quickly as possible.” 

Well before the pandemic, dozens of substance use treatment providers and stakeholders were convened by the Washtenaw Health Initiative to discuss ways to improve the region’s substance use treatment system. A single point of entry and a universal screening tool were some of the main recommendations that came out of this substance use treatment systems improvement process, which was funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

“It’s important to note,” says Lisa Gentz, program administrator for millage services at WCCMH, “that WCCMH will not supplant the county’s core substance use treatment providers. WCCMH staff will connect callers with the region’s exceptional community based providers—including Dawn Farm, Home of New Vision, and other providers in our network.”

The intake process will also allow WCCMH to continue to collect data about substance use treatment needs and outcomes, such as time from assessment to treatment, as the WCCMH access system is integrated with CMHPSM’s electronic health record.