OAKLAND TOGETHER: A message from Dave Coulter, Oakland County Executive


September 22, 2021

Bi-Weekly County Executive Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us in March 2020, we knew that there were significant challenges to providing mental health services to residents facing crisis.

First: getting critical services was expensive and often not covered by insurance. Second: the stigma surrounding mental health left many people to suffer in silence, either unable, unwilling or afraid to ask for help.

Coronavirus only exacerbated this problem, leaving so many people isolated, lonely and without their normal networks of support. Parents were left juggling work, the loss of work and remote schooling for their kids. And thousands have also been grieving the devastating impacts of the illness itself, including the death of loved ones without the benefit and comforts of our traditional forms of mourning.

That’s why it is incumbent upon us to ensure access to mental health services is easy and accessible to anyone who needs it regardless of their ability to pay.

So when the county received the first portion of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, I was committed to dedicating $14 million to improve access to mental health services. And we turned to the United Way of Southeastern Michigan to review the Oakland Together Mental Health and Well Being Non-Profit grant applications and administer the fund. They’ve been doing this work for decades, providing the resources to help keep our essential non-profits stable.

Sara Gold, the senior director of health and basic needs at United Way of Southeastern Michigan, said the needs are immense, agencies are getting inundated with calls for service and this highly charged environment we find ourselves in is not healthy for our physical or mental health.

The more prominent the focus on mental health helps to normalize the need for such services, she said, noting that people automatically seek out professional help when they break a leg or ankle and seeking out mental health assistance should be just as automatic.

There will be three types of grants awarded to non-profit organizations that are responding to increased demand from Oakland County residents since the COVID-19 pandemic began:

  • Operational grants from $50,000 to $99,999 to maintain or enhance mental and/or behavioral health services.
  • Expansion grants from $100,000 to $249,999 to expand or implement new mental and/or behavioral health services.
  • Community grants from $250,000 to $500,000 may be awarded to non-profit organizations with an annual operating budget of at least $4 million which need funds to maintain or expand mental and/or behavioral health.

And this will not be a long, drawn-out process. Applications are due by Oct. 1 and grant awards will be announced by Oct. 25.

We also have set aside $4 million to address mental health issues in our local hospital emergency departments and to support our schools.

People who need help are reaching out, so the need is critical and pressing. We want to get resources to providers of mental health care soon so they can start helping people this year.

Mental health should be treated like physical health. No one should be embarrassed or ashamed to get the help they need in these unprecedented times.


In good health,

David Coulter

Oakland County Executive

Motor Bella Auto Show in Pontiac this week


Motor Bella, a new kind of auto show kicked off at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac this week.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter toured the site with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, moderated a panel of automotive experts speaking on mobility issues and electrification of vehicles and met with executives from many automotive manufacturers and suppliers.

The public can visit the “experiential event” beginning Thursday, Sept. 23-26. Motor Bella will give car enthusiasts the ability to not only kick the tires on 400 of the newest models of cars, trucks and electric vehicles, but also take a spin on the “hot lap” track at the M1 Concourse, climb some rough terrain in a utility vehicle or take and electric vehicle out for a ride.


For more information, go to https://motorbella.com/


Indigent Defense Office established in Oakland County

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter has appointed Pete Menna as the county’s first chief attorney for Indigent Defense.

The appointment follows through on a promise to address criminal justice reform in Oakland County by ensuring that individuals accused of a crime have access to quality legal representation regardless of their ability to pay. One of the recommendations from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission is for the criminal defense appointment system by independent of the Judicial branch of government.

Menna, who has worked in Oakland County’s Corporation Counsel and Prosecutor’s offices, will oversee the appointment and monitoring of attorneys doing indigent criminal defense services in Oakland County’s circuit and 52nd district courts.

Pete Manna

County’s response to COVID-19 recognized by two national organizations

Oakland County received two national awards this month for their digital response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Granicus Digital Government Award was given to recognize the county’s efforts to; build and update websites and newsletters which gave critical information to residents about the pandemic and vaccinations; hold press conferences and meetings virtually, giving access to citizens to their county government; creating a “Save Your Spot” vaccination appointment system, which attracted 600,000 names to a list; and a Tribute month commemorating a year living with COVID and honoring those who were lost to the virus.

The Center For Digital Government gave Oakland County its Experience Award for the monthlong #OaklandTogether COVID-19 Tribute, which included: a live streamed discussion on health disparities in treating the virus; an immersive and interactive Tribute Walk and crowd-sourced Remembrance and Tribute map, honoring those who were lost to COVID and paying tribute to frontline workers who kept residents safe during the public health crisis.

Tribute Walk

Oakland County Health Division gets coveted national accreditation

The Public Health Accreditation Board awarded the Oakland County Health Division national accreditation last week.

The division met all the standards for accreditation, receiving perfect scores in health equity, data collection and use, environmental health, lab services, emergency preparedness, access to care and workforce. It also received high scores in quality improvement/performance management and planning.