Press Releases

Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership Announces Guide for Employers to Add Mental Health Coverage, iMatter Storytelling Effort to Address Stigma

FREELAND, MICHIGAN, October 8, 2021 – The Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership announced today several efforts that advance the access, awareness and importance of mental health in the region with the support of several partners including the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA), and THRIVE (Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy).

In advance of World Mental Health Day on October 10, the group’s announcement highlights several key efforts in growing the support network and increasing mental health care access and awareness locally.

While the region is still working to address a provider shortage and ongoing challenges presented by the
pandemic, several gains have been made. Over the last two years of available data, the region has gained an
additional 1641 mental health providers across all licenses.

1 This data is limited to providers in Bay, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw Counties only and totals 2019 and 2020 provider increases.

The Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership, along with numerous partners, believe there are a number of ways to impact mental health and are passionate about providing progressive opportunities for education, care and hope.

As part of this effort, the group is taking several actions aimed at addressing mental health, including:

  • An Owner’s Guide to Creating and Implementing a Mental Health Program. This guide walks employers through how to implement a mental health program in their organization and was adapted based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Working Well Toolkit. This also includes a Workplace Mental Health Kickoff presentation for employers to use when starting this process.
  • The iMatter Anti-Stigma Campaign with storytelling efforts aimed at reducing the known stigma around mental health.
  • Mental Health Provider Wellness resources that will be available by the end of 2021 to address burnout, traumas, grief, and compassion fatigue which mental health providers may experience in their professions across all licenses.
  • Connection to additional resources for self-help, support and more information.

“The actions around increasing mental health coverage, resources, access and community conversations to eliminate stigma are a strong start to addressing mental health in our region,” said J.W. Fisher, steering team chair of the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership. “Providing employers with tools to help their employees is a great start in the effort to increase access to care.”

In addition, as a result of the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership, which supports the THRIVE initiative, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and MiHIA have added Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to each organization’s benefits package. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.

“These efforts are vital in addressing mental health concerns within the region and getting people to talk about the need for care. In addition, the courageous leadership of those who have chosen to openly share their story around mental health provides the avenue to further this conversation,” said Dr. Matthew Samocki, THRIVE Portfolio director and steering team member of the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership. “It is our hope and intent that these resources and overall platform help to reduce stigmas, increase information and provide access to quality care in the region for years to come.”

In the remainder of this year, the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership and local partners will be working with all regional Chambers of Commerce to continue to advance adoption of workplace mental health programs with employers throughout the region.

For more about An Owner’s Guide to Creating and Implementing a Mental Health Program, visit the website.

For local stories from around the region, visit the iMatter Anti-Stigma Campaign website. For those interested in sharing their personal story around mental health, please contact communications@mihia.org.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text BELONG to 741741.

About the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership
The Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership is a collaborative initiative working to address the mental health crisis in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Started in 2018, the Partnership works 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 include the Family and Friends of Chad William Dunn, National Network of Depression Centers, Central Michigan University College of Medicine, The Dow Company Foundation, University of Michigan Depression Center, Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, Michigan Health Improvement Alliance and THRIVE.

More information is available at https://www.greatlakesbay.com/mentalhealth

About the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance
The mission of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is to encourage, support and celebrate regional collaboration and initiatives that will improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is comprised of 40+ board members who represent various organizations across Bay, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw Counties.

More information is available at https://www.greatlakesbay.com/

About THRIVE
THRIVE (Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy) is an unprecedented effort facilitated by the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA) and the Great Lakes Regional Alliance with a dual focus on creating sustained economic growth and improved health for the entire community through valued partnerships within the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Established in 2017, THRIVE recognizes that vibrant communities are comprised of healthy and productive people who are essential to creating a robust economy. In that effort, THRIVE focuses on a balanced portfolio of 34 evidence-based interventions for delivering improved population health and long-term system change at scale.

More information is available at https://thrivegreatlakesbay.org/

About MiHIA
The Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA) is a 501(c)3 focused on achieving sustainable system change and improved health outcomes of people within a 14-county region in central Michigan. MiHIA focuses on improving health within our region through a comprehensive focus on sustainable systems change. Founded in 2007, MiHIA functions as an integrator or backbone organization to guide the health ecosystem at a regional level, accelerate competitive advantage, foster long-term sustainability and enhance the existing efforts of its valued partners.

More information is available at https://mihia.org/

Media Contact:
Courtney Soule, Communications Manager MiHIA,
GLBRA and THRIVE
e: communications@mihia.org