Thanks to the pandemic, Eric Doeh’s daughter — like many of her peers in metro Detroit — finished her kindergarten year not in her classroom, but at home. “I remember sitting at my desk with her desk close to mine and I thought to myself that the resilience of this kid is unbelievable,” says Doeh, CEO and President of Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN). Even so, Doeh recognized that not all families have access to the resources needed for positive outcomes — and that includes mental health services. It’s DWIHN’s goal to change that.
“Despite the resilience of children, we need to make sure we don’t sell them short because they have been through a lot. The very least we can do at Detroit Wayne is to put all our resources toward the needs of children and families, and keep all our clinical services open in their most robust form,” Doeh says, describing DWIHN’s “children first” approach to care.
Through partnerships with a provider network of innovative behavioral health services, DWIHN creates access to holistic support and resources for individuals, children and families in Wayne County and beyond.
“Substance use disorders and mental health disorders don’t discriminate and it doesn’t matter what ZIP code you live in, we want to make sure people understand that zero to 100 years old is our target audience for help and support,” says Doeh.
“We have always supported children and families with mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorders as one of our main pillars,” he explains, underlining the importance of recognizing issues and taking action immediately. “If a young child is not hitting their developmental milestones, we want to get support and services to them right away because early intervention is key.”
Through community-based family-centered initiatives, families in Wayne County can seek support and services that promote recovery and self-determination for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, serious emotional disturbances or co-occurring mental health, substance use and physical health conditions.
Doeh says he’s especially enthusiastic about an innovative new program called Reach Us Detroit, a text helpline for kids 14 and older. “This is a service where young people can text that they need help and receive access to a clinician for 12 free counseling sessions,” he says, adding that it’s so important to recognize the needs of teens who were isolated from friends during the pandemic or who may, for any reason, be reluctant to go to their parents for help. Youth can call or text 313-488-HOPE (toll free: 855-966-3313).
“The suicide rates and anxiety and depression are high for young people, so it’s imperative that we continue to serve and support families wherever they are, at home, at school or in their community,” he says.
Innovative mental health services through DWIHN
Those in need of behavioral and mental health services also need that help close to home, especially if they don’t have transportation to get to a clinic or other service provider.
To meet this need, DWIHN conducted a study to determine which ZIP codes individuals turning up in the county’s hospital emergency departments were coming from, then invested with partners to get mobile vans to “literally camp out in these neighborhoods,” says Doeh.
For individuals with substance use disorders, DWIHN supports Detroit Recovery Project, an innovative mobile unit that goes into Detroit neighborhoods, essentially bringing support to people wherever they are.
“Detroit Recovery Project goes right into neighborhoods to provide information about services and resources and they’re just one mobile unit that helps people in their communities with whatever they need, even clothing or places to sleep,” says Doeh. One provider, a peer support specialist in his own substance use disorder recovery, became so trusted by the community that individuals call him directly for help when a loved one overdoses and needs attention.
“Really, everyone needs to know that they are not alone. Many people are struggling and there are many peer support specialists and peer recovery coaches helping people go through their recovery journey with that lived experience,” he says.
Another groundbreaking way DWIHN is supporting Wayne County families is through a first-of-its-kind Detroit crisis center with 39 beds over several floors that will provide “respite to those who need short-term crisis resolution services,” Doeh says. The center, located at 707 Milwaukee Ave. in Detroit’s New Center, will soon undergo renovation and is scheduled to open in 2023.
“This is a place where people can go that is not an ER, but will offer crisis services in our neighborhood,” Doeh says.
Most importantly, DWIHN wants everyone in need to take advantage of its 24-hour helpline at 1-800-241-4949.
“We are a resource in the community and want to continue to be that resource,” Doeh says. “We always talk about the 800 number we have because we want people to call. We want folks to reach out because we are here to serve and our services are free.”
Learn more about the many services of Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network at dwihn.org. If you are in urgent need of behavioral or mental health services, call DWIHN’s 24-hour helpline at 1-800-241-4949.