My Brother Wants Me to Keep His Depression a Secret

My Brother Wants Me to Keep His Depression a Secret

Do you know someone struggling with depression, and don’t know how to help? You’re not alone. See what advice Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed had for “Concerned and Confused” in this recent New York Times article: My Brother Wants Me to Keep His Depression a Secret.

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is October 10, 2018!

   “Imagine growing up in our world today. Constantly battling the effects of human rights violations, wars and violence in the home, schools and businesses. Young people are spending most of their day on the internet – experiencing cyber crimes, cyber bullying, and playing violent video games. Suicide and substance abuse numbers have been steadily rising, LGBTQ youth are feeling alone and persecuted for being true to themselves and young adults are at the age when serious mental illnesses can occur and yet they are taught little to nothing about mental illness and well-being.

     The World Federation for Mental Health is focusing the 2018 WMHDAY campaign on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.  We want to bring attention to the issues our youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient.

     Let’s all use this year to emphasize the needs of our young people. It’s time to take a stand and demand more for this vulnerable population – our future depends on it! #worldmentalhealthday”

-World Federation for Mental Health

National Recovery Month 2018

National Recovery Month 2018

September is National Recovery Month!

     Take some time this month to celebrate the hope and change that comes with recovery. Millions of people struggle with substance abuse or experience a mental disorder, this month is our chance to show them that recovery is possible. There is hope even in the darkest situations! For more information, please visit SAMHSA.


Get Your Washtenaw ID

Get Your Washtenaw ID

The Washtenaw ID is a government issued photo identification card for all Washtenaw County residents. Get yours today at the Office of the County Clerk at 200 N. Main Street, Downtown Ann Arbor, Monday through Friday 8:30-4:00pm.

Interested in Supporting the ID?

We are always in need of volunteers for our Business Outreach Campaign. We are asking businesses to accept the Washtenaw ID and offer a discount or reward to ID holders.

If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about the Washtenaw ID Project please visit our website at

Phone: 734-340-5894

Email: Laura Sanchez at

Email: Aimee Papineau at

Patient Voices: Bipolar Disorder — The New York Times

Patient Voices: Bipolar Disorder — The New York Times

The New York Times
WELL|Patient Voices: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition affecting around 60 million people worldwide that causes unusual and sudden shifts in mood and energy. What is it like to have bipolar disorder? How do you balance the mental ups and downs of this disease? Here, in their own words, are the stories of five men and women living with this condition.

Supportive Housing – New York Times

The New York Times
The Opinion Pages | Letter
Supportive Housing

To the Editor:

Re “ nov 12, 2012 – Unclear Future for Housing Program That Aids Mentally Ill Homeless People” (news article, March 25):

There is no doubt that supportive housing, which combines affordable housing and support services, ends homelessness for people and families with significant barriers to housing, like mental illness and addiction.

By avoiding the significant public costs of temporary shelter and emergency-room visits for the most vulnerable among us, supportive housing is also cost-effective.

It is important to note the role of private investment in creating housing opportunities for vulnerable New Yorkers. Supportive housing is financed through a highly successful model of public-private partnerships.

Funding from the city and state is critical in leveraging private investment, especially because it provides the continuing services necessary to keep families and individuals safely and stably housed.

Without the guarantee of these funds from the state, we will lose not only the opportunity to publicly finance supportive housing, but also millions of dollars in private equity.


V.P. and New York Market Leader

Enterprise Community Partners

New York

Synod Community Services CEO advocates for I.D. Project

We are proud of the work on the Washtenaw County ID Program that Synod’s CEO, Keta Cowan, has been doing for the last two years. Here’s an article that outlines the presentation given to the Ypsilanti City Council that unanimously voted to support the institution of a county-wide photo ID card that would benefit thousands in our community.

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Synod Community Services CEO advocates for I.D. Project

October 15, 2014
Written by Allie Tomason
The Eastern Echo

Keta J. Cowan, CEO of Synod Community Services, gave a presentation to Ypsilanti city council members on Oct. 7, advocating for the Washtenaw County I.D. Project.

The project was designed to bring residents who lack identification cards out of the shadows.

“It is estimated that 11 percent of all residents in Washtenaw County lack proof of who they are,” she said.

That includes 18 percent of citizens over the age of 65, 4-6,000 (estimated) undocumented immigrants, 25 percent of African-Americans, 20 percent of Asian- Americans and 19 percent of Latino-Americans, according to the Washtenaw I.D. Task Force.

Cowan said that lack of identification does not only affect undocumented immigrants, but homeless people, those with mental illness, the transgender community and low socioeconomic status individuals as well.

“The state I.D. card eligibility criteria excludes a substantial amount of people,” Cowan said. “One of the goals of the I.D. Task Force is to determine how we could come to know who lives in the county. In order to provide services, we need to know what the needs are.”

The Real I.D. Act of 2005 established more stringent criteria in order to obtain proof of identification and eliminated a number of exclusions and exceptions that the Secretary of State once made, such as a name being spelled differently on the birth certificate than it is on the social security card.

“There are a number of people, particularly elderly African-Americans, who have never had birth certificates or whose births were registered at hospitals that have been closed,” Cowan said. “Those records are, simply, lost. Without that foundation access to the state I.D. card isn’t possible.”

The task force has designed an identification card that looks similar to the current Michigan driver’s license, with the intended purpose of enabling residents to fully participate in civic life.

“We designed it to look as official as possible,” Cowan said. “But it has not been proposed to the state, yet.”

The council unanimously carried a motion to support its approval.


Support the Washtenaw ID Project

Because no one should have to live in the shadows of their own community, the Washtenaw ID Project advocates for the creation of an accessible county ID that recognizes every resident as a person before the law and as a valuable member of Washtenaw County. The Washtenaw ID Task Force is comprised of local government officials, law enforcement officials, human service organizations and community advocates working to gather information on the nature of civic problems faced by those without ID, evaluate solutions implemented in other jurisdictions and propose suitable methods for resolving identification issues in Washtenaw County.

Synod Community Services’ CEO Keta Cowan and Executive Assistant Janelle Fa’aola have been the Chair and Vice Chair of the Washtenaw ID Task Force from the beginning of this journey over 2 years ago. It has finally come time for the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to vote on the Washtenaw County ID Program.

Please come support us through our fundraising efforts and at our upcoming vote!

Join us for an elegant evening over a fine dining experience at Sava’s Restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. A $50 ticket will get you into an appetizer mix & mingle and hearing from guest speaker Washtenaw County Board of Commissioner Chair, Yousef Rabhi and Michigan State Representative, Jeff Irwin over a decadent seated 3-course meal. A portion of ticket prices are tax-deductible and include gratuity.

Monday, October 27
Sava’s Restaurant
216 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Washtenaw County Board Ways & Means Meeting

We invite the community to come support the Washtenaw ID Project during Public Participation by standing up to tell the County Board of Commissioners to vote in support of instituting a Washtenaw County ID Program. Every voice counts.

Wednesday, November 5
Washtenaw County Administration Building
220 N. Main St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104


Together We Stand
This fundraising event will have 4-5 samples from Arbor Brewing Company’s craft beers made in-house at their brewery along with Sidetrack’s Bar & Grill’s famous appetizers and finger foods. We will also have a live auction from various community donations! $20 per ticket.

Friday, December 12
Arbor Brewing Company
720 Norris St.
Ypsilanti, MI 48198


If you are interested in learning more about the Washtenaw ID Project please visit our website at If you are interested in donating but are unable to attend an event, please visit here. For more information, please contact Janelle or Keta at 734.340.5898 or e-mail at

2014 Annual Carnival

Check out our pictures from the 2014 Annual Carnival last Friday! It was a day full of good food, games, prizes and FUN for Synod staff, consumers and community members. Thanks to all who attended and a special thanks to those who helped make the day such a success!

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20140620_153936(0)20140620_153948 20140620_154848image (38)image (39)image (40)image (41)image (42)image (43)image (44)image (46)image (49)image (50)image (51) Keisha

Cuts to Michigan’s mental health budget cost state’s most vulnerable

Ann Mullen, Ross Jones and Adam Brewster

Watch the video here: 

Newly instituted cuts have left some of Michigan’s most vulnerable without health services that mental health providers say could have catastrophic results.

The cuts effect those with mental illness, developmental disorders and other conditions, like Christy Assenmacher’s son Denny.

“He had been different since he was born, I could tell there was something different since the day he was born,” Christy said.

Ten years ago, Denny was diagnosed with severe autism, a disorder that makes it virtually impossible for him to understand other people, communicate his feelings and develop relationships.  When he can’t express himself, Denny sometimes becomes violent.

“I’ve had to call the police on him a few times,” she said. “And he’s not a bad kid, he’s not a bad person.  He doesn’t understand this world and when he’s upset, he doesn’t know how to deal with it.”

Ever since his diagnosis, Denny and his mom have found respite at an agency called The Guidance Center, a non-profit group that provides mental health services that Christy’s insurance won’t cover, but the State of Michigan would.

The center offers services like speech therapy, in-home support, someone to help Denny in school and a case manger to handle his therapy and medications.  For Christy, it was a lifesaver, especially since her husband—a longtime Southgate police officer—died suddenly last year of a heart attack.

“He’s come so far because of all the help.  It takes so many people to help a child with autism really improve or thrive,” Assenmacher said.

Health coverage expands, but some services end

But earlier this year, those services abruptly stopped after lawmakers in Lansing cut funding to them by more than half.  It happened after Governor Snyder proposed something called Healthy Michigan, a program that expanded Medicaid to nearly half a million more Michigan residents.

It was hailed by both parties, shifting health coverage expenses from the state to the federal government, and saving the state millions.  When it became law, the state cut back on how much it put towards kids like Denny, thinking Medicaid would cover the difference.

But mental health providers across Michigan say the state cut too deep: more than $40 million too deep.  It caused them to cut back their programs, and left kids like Denny and others out in the cold.

Denny’s mom doesn’t qualify for Healthy Michigan because she makes too much money, but her insurance won’t pay for the services that her son needs, and she says she can’t afford them.  Denny’s been without help from the Guidance Center for three months, and his mom says he’s getting worse.

“When’s the last time he was violent?” asked Channel 7’s Ross Jones.

“This weekend,” she responded. “He got a butter knife, and I‘m sure he wouldn’t have used it but, he starts pushing and shoving me.”

Christy’s other son, 12-year-old Eric, ultimately came to her mom’s defense.  She says today, he’s her only support.

“He helps me, he’s stronger and he keeps Denny in line a lot,” she said.

Lynda Zeller is a deputy director in the Department of Community Health, which pushed the cuts to state mental health spending, from $281 million in 2013 to $97.5 million in 2015, and says no one should have lost coverage.

“There should be a smooth enough path where no one should have to lose services,” Zeller said.

“But some have, and are you comfortable knowing that some are?” Jones asked.

“Of course, none of us are comfortable when a person needs services who had them before doesn’t have them,” Zeller responded.

Service cuts deemed “unintended consequences”

For 30 years, Adult Well-Being Services of Detroit has provided guardians for the mentally disabled, elderly and abused who can’t take care of themselves. But in April, CEO Karen Schrock and her board of directors chose to end the program, citing a lack of funds.

“This is an example of unintended consequences,” Schrock said, speaking of the Healthy Michigan program.  “You think you’re doing a good thing and you think  you’re planning properly.

Today, Adult Well-Being Services is scrambling to find new guardians for approximately 140 clients.  Schrock believes that at least half won’t be able to find alternatives.

“Without this kind of oversight and support,” she said, “people will die.”

High-ranking senator ducks questions

Pleas from people like Schrock didn’t convince Lansing lawmakers to add funding during this week’s budget negotiations.  Their scheduled summer recess begins today, and they will leave the Capitol without providing any additional funding to help kids like Denny.  It’s a decision that some, like Senator Roger Kahn, aren’t eager to discuss.  He refused to be interviewed for nearly a week, then ducked out a back elevator on Tuesday just to avoid questions.

When approached Tuesday by 7 Action News in Lansing on the senate floor, Kahn literally fled from our camera.

“I’m being harassed by this gentlemen,” Kahn told a senate security guard, before escaping to his office.