One in five. That’s the percentage of adults in America who experience a mental illness. Nearly one in 25 adults in America live with a serious mental illness. And, perhaps even more startling, one-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
Proof by numbers can go on and on. Sadly, however, mental illness has gained significant mainstream attention in the past few years due to something more compelling than statistics—personal touch points. High-profile stories of deaths by suicide of Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and others… Public displays of meltdowns by young stars… Neighbors, friends, or family members facing their own struggles… Private battles with depression or other mental illnesses.
Add to this the difficulty of connecting those in need with quality treatment, and a terrific problem emerges. Just take a look at the Problem Pipeline, which shows various obstacles that get in the way as people in need seek help for mental health issues. We lose them at each barrier, beginning with stigma. And we end up with only a fraction of people receiving high-quality care. There is little argument that we are facing a mental health crisis in our nation.
The Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership in Michigan decided to tackle this crisis in a unique way—through community collaboration. The first critical step was figuring out how to bring the many different stakeholders together to talk, to learn, to plan, and to solve. This led us to CollaborateUp, a process that does just that—brings people together around the tough issues they face in common to quickly create innovative solutions.
The Mental Health Partnership hosted a workshop titled Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in the Great Lakes Bay Region. PYXERA Global, the facilitator for the event, worked closely with CollaborateUp and the Partnership to identify potential participants including representatives from health systems, higher education, community foundations, private sector companies, nonprofits, K-12 schools, mental health providers, government officials, concerned citizens, spiritual leaders, and some folks experiencing their own mental health issues. The participants were asked to roll their sleeves up, throw convention out the window, and brainstorm ideas to help connect people in need with quality mental health care.
The attendees divided into groups focused on five key target populations: youth, young adults, middle-aged/working adults, senior adults, and mental health providers. Each group investigated how to reduce stigma, make it easier to support those seeking services and information, increase access to services, and improve quality of care.
The groups came up with diverse solutions to explore and possibly implement. That’s the next stage in this collaboration process—inviting resources across the spectrum to evaluate proposed solutions and, if found viable, hammer out plans to set them in motion.
Mental illness is not just a medical problem. It’s a social problem that requires all of society uniting in support of mental wellness.
The Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Ecosystem shown below illustrates how each dimension of society plays a role in the solution. Our daily encounters—with our families, schools, organizations, workplaces, public entities, care providers, emergency personnel, entertainment, governments, and others—are all interconnected and carry influence, power, and opportunity for positive change.
Mental Health Ecosystem
This is an exciting time for the Mental Health Partnership and for the Great Lakes Bay Region. We are in the process of reaching deep into stakeholder populations to engage more people in the development of healthier communities. Change is afoot—important, creative, life-saving change. And, ultimately, we are all part of that change. Together, we are the solution.
About the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership
The Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership is a collaborative initiative to address the mental health crisis in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The Partnership is working with community stakeholders and resources to ensure that everyone knows where to turn for help when struggling with a mental health issue, seeks help without fear of stigma and receives prompt access to excellent care. Key supporters of the Partnership include the Chad William Dunn Memorial Fund, Central Michigan University College of Medicine, University of Michigan Depression Center and The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.