Mind Matters, a free virtual program on March 3 for Metro Detroiters, wants to help people learn how to navigate Michigan’s mental health care system.
With one in five adults experiencing mental illness in 2020, a crisis exacerbated by the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding how — and where — to access mental health care has become more important than ever. Yet those resources aren’t always easy to find.
That’s why Mind Matters, a free virtual program on March 3 for Metro Detroiters, wants to help people learn how to navigate Michigan’s mental health care system.
As a joint partnership between JVS+Kadima and Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry, Mind Matters will tackle five subjects crucial to mental health care access: being diagnosed, treatment models, financial resources, how to advocate for yourself or a loved one and resources for caregivers.
The free event will include panel discussions with mental health experts and personal stories.
“As we have seen an increase in mental health challenges, we hope to provide information and support to those wondering how to access services or what is next,” says Aubrey Macfarlane, COO of JVS+Kadima.
“The panelists in this program will bring a wide variety of expertise, experience and information to those interested in learning more about the mental health system and mental health diagnosis.”
Getting Mental Health Resources “In Your Face”
Dr. Roberto Rinaldi, vice president of clinical integration at JVS+Kadima, says mental health resources have always been there — however, they’re not always “right in front of you,” so to speak.
“There are so many layers,” he says of Michigan’s mental health care system. “There’s a system in place and that system is not always easy, so it’s not just knowing how to start getting into the system, but once you’re in it, how do you navigate it?”
It’s a concern many Michiganders face.
“It’s there,” Rinaldi says of resources like hotlines and mental health authorities. “However, it’s just not in your face.”
Through the 90-minute program, participants will learn how to take that first step and how to navigate the process that follows, from a financial aspect to types of treatment available. This can help people learn not only how to find help, but also how to figure out the right therapeutic fit.
“Mind Matters makes it easier to understand,” Rinaldi says of the mental health care system. “It gives it a different perspective. It allows individuals to understand what they need to do and how they need to do it in order to receive what they need and what they deserve.”
Financial and Caregiver Resources are a Priority
Rinaldi will join the panel discussion to focus on resources for caregivers, one of the most under looked elements of mental health care, he explains.
“We often forget that while the individuals diagnosed need services, so do their caregivers,” he said.
This includes caregivers making their own mental health a priority and how to find resources like support groups. Participants will also learn about strategies like relaxation techniques and therapy specifically designed for caregivers to help them navigate their own wellness and care.
Rinaldi says financial resources are another key area that remains difficult for people to navigate.
“I think a lot of people hold back,” he says of seeking out mental health care. “It’s tough, navigating Medicaid, Medicare and [other financial resources] the county can provide.”
The lack of “in your face” mental health resources, paired with decreased accessibility due to COVID-19, has contributed to a greater need for public awareness on understanding Michigan’s mental health care system — which may not be as complex as some people think.
Creating Solutions for Accessibility
“COVID-19, isolation and all of the things that came along with it have increased depression and anxiety across the board,” Rinaldi explains. “But there’s layers on top of that.”
Because of social distancing and other public health restrictions over the last two years, the ongoing pandemic has made it more difficult for mental health practitioners to see patients face-to-face. This has added strain to the mental health care system because community engagement and social interaction are key to many treatment models for mental illness.
“In our institution, our waiting lists have ballooned to many months to get treatment,” explains Dr. Richard Dopp, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Michigan. “Some clinics have even stopped adding names to waitlists.”
Still, there are solutions — and many services have gone digital or hybrid for the time being to continue reaching populations in need.
Rinaldi says the best way to seek out care is to simply call Oakland County’s mental health care hotline at 1-800-231-1127 or Wayne County’s mental health care hotline at 1-833-557-3224.
From there, callers can be directed to the proper resources to help them take the first step in securing mental health treatment.
Dopp adds that he hopes the Mind Matters webinar will help patients and their loved ones further understand more about issues such as treatment that is helping but not helping enough, the benefits of psychotherapy, the role of medications and some self-care strategies that people can do to improve their mood or the way they function.
“It takes resilience and knowledge to get the care you need,” he said.
March 3 7-8:30 p.m.
Register at https://umich.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gFt2hUoBTVi3oy9dJ6Bihw