Oakland Community Health Network

5505 Corporate Drive
Troy, MI, 48098, US

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FROM THE Resource

In October 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act into law. It was a monumental moment that led to the deinstitutionalization of people placed in hospitals for mental illness and disabilities.

"When carried out, reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability," Kennedy declared. "Emphasis on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation will be substituted for a desultory interest in confining patients in an institution to wither away."

The law drastically changed the landscape of the mental health care system and allowed people who were once living in institutions to rejoin their communities.

But those individuals needed support from their community, and the Oakland Community Health Network, which was founded that same year, was at the forefront of providing that support and advocating for deinstitutionalization locally.

And the organization continues to be at the forefront today Ñ more than 50 years after the law was enacted.

"People get to live in their community, and they succeed better in a community-based setting," says Annette Downey, executive director and CEO at the Oakland Community Health Network.

Since its inception, the Oakland Community Health Network has helped children and adults with developmental disabilities, mental illnesses and substance use disorders by offering physical and mental health support and services.

"We are a pre-paid inpatient health plan, which means we are contracted through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide public mental health specialty services for individuals who have an intellectual or developmental disability, mental health concern, substance use disorder, and children who have serious emotional disturbance," Downey says. "Almost all of the individuals we provide services to have Medicaid health insurance coverage, so we're really considered the safety net for public health."

The only way these individuals can receive this support is through a public mental health system, she adds.

The publicly funded Oakland Community Health Network serves 27,000 people in Oakland County, but the reach is further than that, Downey says. For each individual the network serves, there is at least one friend or family member who is also impacted by the services provided to that person.

"They are people with dreams and desires and goals of what they want to achieve in their life," Downey says.

In order to assist these community members with their goals, the Oakland Community Health Network offers specialty public mental health services, including:

Case management
Case managers coordinate services for each individual based on a person-centered plan.

Community living supports
CLS helps people learn how to become as independent as possible in their daily life.

Criminal justice services
These public mental health services help to provide an alternative to jail for nonviolent offenders.

Employment supports
Provides help for adults with behavioral health disorders, intellectual/developmental disabilities and substance use disorders to retain employment.

Assists those with disabilities and other challenges achieve their aspirations of independent living.

Peer mentor and peer supports
It's often easier to relate to those who have experienced similar circumstances, which is why these public mental health services are delivered by those with an intellectual/developmental disability or those who are in recovery from a mental illness or substance use disorder, too.

It's important for caregivers to have opportunities to cater to their own mental and physical health. The Oakland Community Health Network can help put those caregivers in contact with mental health respite services.

Aside from the services above, Downey says the OCHN leads several initiatives to address stigma, which include working with schools and hospitals, in addition to community education.

"We should treat all people, regardless of their developmental disability or mental health diagnosis, with dignity and respect. In doing so, we can help end the stigma that discourages individuals from seeking the supports needed to help them lead self-directed lives," Downey says.

For more information on the Oakland Community Health Network, call its nonemergency line at 248-464-6363, contact the resource and crisis helpline at 800-231-1127 or visit the Oakland Community Health Network website.