YPSILANTI, Mich., Dec. 23, 2021 – On January 1, 2022, Washtenaw County residents who want substance use treatment support can call a 24/7 hotline, 734-544-3050, to receive an immediate screening, referral to a community-based provider, or guidance on how to get connected to services.
The calls will be answered by licensed mental health and substance use professionals at Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH).
“Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, with its fully staffed 24/7 access line, is best positioned to serve as the new access point,” says James Colaianne, the chief executive officer at Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast Michigan (CMHPSM).
The switch aligns Washtenaw with the other regional counties overseen by the CMHPSM—Lenawee, Livingston, and Monroe—who all use their community mental health agency as the main access point for substance use disorder 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. They will connect callers with the region’s exceptional community based providers—including Dawn Farm, Home of New Vision, and other providers in our network.”
“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.”
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.
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 access process, and a universal screening tool, were some of the main recommendations that came out of this substance use treatment systems improvement process.
“I think Washtenaw County’s move to a single point of access is a big step in the right direction,” says Tim Shewcraft, peer recovery project coordinator at Michigan Medicine. “I feel the population is best served by simplifying the process for the many community providers attempting to provide patients with referrals to this much needed care.”
“As a harm reduction specialist working with this population for over 20 years, many of these individuals are frustrated with access barriers to our care system,” says Lemont Gore, street outreach coordinator at Unified: HIV Health and Beyond. “I’m confident and hopeful that simplifying our access route, via [Washtenaw County] Community Mental Health, will enhance the process for those seeking help and also encourage others to consider their options.”
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.
For substance use disorder emergencies—such as an overdose or imminent danger—people should continue to call 911 for immediate professional help.
For all other needs, the 24/7 access line will connect callers to local, professional services. Residents can also call the access line with a broad range of questions, including how to help loved ones and how to navigate the county’s substance use treatment system.
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH) promotes hope, recovery, resilience, quality of life, and wellness by providing high quality, integrated services to eligible individuals. Thanks to the Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage, WCCMH expanded its services to all county residents regardless of insurance, ability to pay, or crisis severity. For guidance on how to get connected to services, call 734-544-3050.