Mental Health Services Needs Assessments
Widespread recognition of the inadequacy of current mental health services has led to multiple studies identifying pressing needs. These studies should increase the confidence of City Council Members that additional funds for mental health services would be wisely allocated. Council Members need not, and should not, devote significant resources to a needs assessment.
Three Excellent Studies of Mental Health Services Needs
We suggest the following three studies are excellent starting points.
1. The Community Mental Health Advisory Committee (CMHAC) did excellent work. They released their report as of June 26, 2018. The Community Mental Health Board reviewed the report and made several amendments as of July 20, 2018. This concise 13-page report a) is up-to-date, b) focused on Washtenaw County which of course includes Ann Arbor, and c) deals explicitly with the best use of the funds generated by the Mental Health and Public Safety Millage. Their report is Community Mental Health Advisory Recommendations. The Report includes links to important materials for those wanting details and background.
2. Just four months ago, seven agencies and nonprofits were partners in producing an “assessment of crisis services within Washtenaw County … to provide the community a current reality of the services available to individuals experiencing a mental health and/‘or substance use disorder crisis.” (p. 1) Their report is Washtenaw Crisis Services Assessment, Version 3.1, March 14, 2018. An excellent one-page Executive Summary summarizes the “four main needs that arose” and three recommendations. We strongly suggest City of Ann Arbor officials read the entire report for a better understanding of unmet needs in our community and of the benefits of additional funding for mental health services.
3. Washtenaw County Mental Health and Substance Use Service Gaps Assessment, July 2016, is an excellent report on local needs in mental health services. It was prepared by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) (link), a locally based nonprofit with an outstanding national reputation. The report includes important, timely input from numerous local agencies and nonprofits. Its findings are as relevant as they were 23 months ago when it was released. It is an important resource to the Washtenaw Health Initiative and to WCCMH. City officials should be reassured knowing this assessment is being used in allocating dollars for mental health services from the Mental Health and Public Safety Millage.