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    1. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you go to college? What did you major in? Did you have internships and if so where? Where are you from? How did you develop your connections and resources? Basically, how did you get to where you are now?

     

    Bill received his bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Michigan Dearborn. Following his bachelors, Bill received masters in Public Administration from Wayne State University. During his days of education, Bill worked as an intern for a state supreme justice named Patty Boyle.

    .

    Bill has worked within many sectors before becoming involved with the Mental Health Association of Michigan. Bill used to work within local government in Dearborn Heights. This experience included working in community development, rehabilitation within homes, road repair, and recreational involvements.

     

     

    2. What duties do you have as Assistant Executive Director?

     

    Bill has many duties that vary as Assistant Executive director. When he first started, the office had 4 and a half people and now the office has only 3 people working there. Bill spends some of his time recruiting members, grant writing, fundraising, and knocking on doors in Lansing. He told me support is not always granted and that money is a big issue with trying to advocate for this non-profit organization.

     

     

    What is your favorite part of your job? Least favorite? Why?

    Bill's favorite part and least favorite part are raising money. The organization will be having their annual golfing fundraiser at the end of the month. Bill told me that the organization has had a lot of support with fundraising, but due to the tough economy, fundraising has become tough and not as much fun. He said, "it's hard to do things without support."

    4. What exactly is the Mental Health Association all about? What types of issues is it involved in?

     

    The Mental Health Association of Michigan is the oldest nongovernmental Agency that is geared at advocacy and pubic policy analysis. The MHAM channels all efforts towards brain disorders. The MHAM advocates by asking for increased services and money. The MHAM knocks on doors to get support for those individuals with brain disorders about being underserved. The organizations constituents include people who are on Medicaid or Medicare.

     

    5. What do you think about individuals who suffer from mental health disorders that are locked up in jails?

     

    Bill said that he believed this was the worst situation. He said that jails are not designed to house the mentally ill or to provide medications. The staff in jails is also not trained to do this. Bill said that housing the mentally ill in jails makes a bad situation even worst.

     

     

    6.  How do you establish the importance of these mental health issues within the community?

    The organization establishes the importance of mental health issues through public relation efforts. They also use public speaking and networking with friends of friends to discuss their issues.

    7. Who are your opponents and who are your allies?

     

    The MHAM allies include: American federation of state county and imessible employee and Community Mental Health Organization.

     

    The MHAM has no real opponents. There is no competition regarding public policy and advocacy.

     

     

    8. What types of battles are you currently facing with legislation? What type of legislation are you supporting?

     

    The Mental health parity is biggest piece of legislation that the organization is supporting.

    9. What is Citizen Involvement all about?

    Bill said that Citizen Involvement is to connect those who already have direct connection to the issue of mental health. The organization uses Citizen Involvement to call on individuals to tell stories to legislators. This helps to give mental illness a face. Bill said that the stats vary: 1-3 or 1-5 individuals will be touched by mental illness within their life span. He said that mental illness is a real issue; not imaginary.

    10. Can you tell me about your relationship and involvement with Michigan Partners For Parity?

     

    Bill said that both organizations desire to have those with mental illness treated with same levels of care as other diseases-such as cancer. Both mental illness and diseases like cancer have no cure; just medication to help cope with the side effects. Mental illness is almost discriminated against in the amount of federal level support. Small time employees, self-employed employees, etc. are left without coverage for business cannot always seem to afford to include mental health coverage.

     

    11. What do you consider to be MHAM's biggest accomplishment?

    The MHAM took the lead on the 2004  gov. 2004 level of care mental health policy. Prior to 2004, this legislation had not been looked at for at least 25 years.

     

    12. Do you have interns? Where do they work and how are they involved within your overall goals?

     

    No. Eventually, the organization would like to have interns, but currently their office does not have the time to help an intern pin down the ropes.


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    About Us

    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Leah Brynaert

    Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.