Watkins: Mental health authority works to add value

Tom Watkins

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority and its community partners, we have accomplished a great deal to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens: persons with serious mental Illness, children with emotional disabilities, persons with substance use disorders and individuals with developmental disabilities.

We must never lose sight of the fact that an illness or disability from the neck up is just as real as a disease from the neck down. One in 4 people today are touched by the services we provide through the DWMHA.

The Authority was recently awarded $13.2 million to offer mobile crisis stabilization services, crisis intervention, pre-admission screening and related services. This initiative will ultimately reduce costly emergency room services and inappropriate incarceration.

DWMHA has trained over 10,000 citizens, first responders, clergy, teachers and average citizens in “Mental Health First Aid.”

The Authority recently allocated over $21.5 million to provide a $1 per hour increase to direct care staff workers in Wayne County. These individuals work on the front lines in groups homes, usually earning just minimum wage to provide personal care and skill-building for persons with severe mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Since becoming an authority, separating from Wayne County government, we have eliminated nearly $30 million in legacy costs and generated the same figure in new revenue to expand services.

In 2015 the authority served as one of the demonstration sites for the state’s MI Health Link program. MI Health Link is designed to test a new payment and service model to improve coordination of services for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees, enhance quality of care and reduces cost.

We take pride in the Opening Minds, Ending Stigma documentaries supported by the Flinn Foundation which exposes the broader community to the stigma associated with mental illness

We will continue to assure our system of care remains consumer and community-focused, data-driven and evidenced-based. We are confident that through engaging our community, we will continue to add value and make a difference.

Need mental health services? Contact our 24/7 crisis line: 800 241-4949

Tom Watkins is the president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority.