County leaders recently shared Washtenaw County Community Mental Health’s 2022 Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage impact report. This report shares outcomes driven by the voter-approved millage. The millage generates roughly $6 million annually for mental health services. In 2022, these investments expanded local access to mental health and substance use care, housed 250 previously homeless individuals, established jail-based behavioral health services, integrated mental health professionals into 911 dispatch response, increased support for youth in schools, and provided community education aimed at reducing stigma and supporting access to care.
“The impact of the millage has been truly remarkable,” says Trish Cortes, executive director of Washtenaw County Community Mental Health. “Historically mental health has been poorly funded, but flexible millage dollars have enabled us to make significant strides in critical areas, transforming the landscape of mental health services in our community.”
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH), the county’s public mental health agency, administers the funds. Without millage support WCCMH would be unable to serve many local residents. State criteria limit WCCMH service to Medicaid enrollees with severe mental illness, severe emotional disturbance, and emergency needs. Millage funds allow WCCMH to serve the county community more comprehensively, including uninsured residents, privately insured residents without adequate mental health coverage, and residents with mild to moderate mental health and substance use concerns. The additional dollars have also enabled the county to provide face-to-face responses to individuals in crisis and expanded staffing to meet increasing needs.
The millage investments also benefit community agencies across the county, including Avalon Housing, the Corner Health Center, and the National Alliance of Mental Illness-Washtenaw County, enabling them to expand their programs and support an even greater number of people in need.
The report highlights the impact of investments in five critical areas:
(1) Mental Health Service Expansion
In 2022 WCCMH provided mental health care access to 1,109% more clients without Medicaid compared to 2018—reflecting WCCMH’s commitment to ensuring that mental health services are available to everyone, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.
(2) Housing and Mental Health Services for Homeless Individuals
Thanks to millage funds, over 250 homeless residents have been housed at millage funded partners in 2022: Avalon Housing, Ozone House, the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, and Ypsilanti Housing Commission.
(3) Criminal Justice Reform to Help Washtenaw Better Respond to People with Mental Illness
Millage funds support enhanced jail-based and community reentry services and ensured that 911 dispatch calls are staffed with trained mental health workers when mental health or substance use concerns are present. These and other programs are redefining the county’s approach to public safety and demonstrate a strong commitment to alternative policing and reform.
(4) Youth Mental Health Services
Youth mental health services have also received a significant boost by the millage. Millage funds have expanded psychiatry time at local youth-serving health organizations and supported youth programming at five other trusted community organizations. For instance, in 2022, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District received over $2.3 million to better support the mental health needs of students countywide.
(5) Mental Health Prevention and Education
Lastly, the report shows how millage funds are reducing stigma around mental illness and substance use while encouraging help-seeking behavior. Through partnerships with the Washtenaw County Health Department, Washtenaw’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and others, investments are providing support and helping show those struggling that they are not alone.
Read the report to learn about these and other programs funded with millage dollars, and the impact they have had on our community.