GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Austin Metz had an idea for a one-stop shop for all things mental health for residents of West Michigan that came out of necessity.
Metz, founder of West Michigan Mental Health LLC, recently created the website, www.wmmentalhealth.com. He said he got the idea in November 2021, after he was left to find a new therapist and educational resources for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
The website includes educational resources and a growing county-by-county list of profiles featuring information about local mental health organizations, according to a press release.
For example, someone could seek help for OCD – a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions), according to the Mayo Clinic.
“As a person who personally spent countless hours searching the internet for trustworthy mental health information and a therapist who specializes in OCD, I realized there had to be a better way to find credible information,” Metz said, in a prepared statement. “I am using all my different degrees and experiences from my past and putting it all into one thing that I have passion about.”
Metz, 33, of Grand Rapids, has a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in web development from Grand Rapids Community College, the release said.
He describes the website as the tool that connects local mental health patients with the vast network of resources available in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan, Ionia, Barry and Muskegon counties.
There is currently information for eight resources listed under Kent County, including Arbor Circle, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan and the Anxiety Resource Center.
“I have had nothing but positive feedback,” said Metz, about his engagement with organizations. “A lot of these organizations are busy trying to run adequately and juggling all sorts of different things. It gives them a place that they can direct people to get information.”
Since college, Metz said he has been looking for a direction. He said that he suddenly felt a need to help other people, especially when many can’t afford to meet face-to-face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By January 2021, Metz said he began building the website and has since been working on it all on his own by sending out surveys to local organizations and gaining their feedback.
According to Metz, the website continues to grow and is now accepting submissions from local organizations to become a listed resource on the website.
For mental health professionals, a submission form is available on the website to be added to the therapist database, Metz said.
“The structure is all there and people can go to the website as soon as right now if they wanted to,” Metz said. “There is a navigation bar, and I shared my personal story as the first blog post to get that underway. But I am continuously updating it and building it.”
According to Metz, he plans to have the local resources page completed by May 1 and the therapist directory by July 1.
Residents can get updates about the website on West Michigan Mental Health LLC’s Facebook page. Organizations interested in being added to the website can find contact information through the website, or by sending a message on Facebook.
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