GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Austin Metz came up with the idea of a one-stop-shop for all things mental health for residents of West Michigan out of necessity.
Metz, founder of West Michigan Mental Health LLC, recently created the website www.wmmentalhealth.com. He said he came up with the idea in November 2021, after being left behind to find a new therapist and educational resources for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
The website includes educational resources and a growing list of county-by-county profiles with information about local mental health organizations, according to a press release.
For example, someone might seek help for OCD — a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that cause you to engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions), according to the Mayo Clinic.
“As someone who has personally spent countless hours searching the internet for reliable mental health information and as a therapist who specializes in OCD, I realized there had to be a better way to find information. credible,” Metz said in a prepared statement. “I use all of my different degrees and experiences from my past and put them all into one thing that I’m passionate about.”
Metz, 33, of Grand Rapids, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor’s degree in web development from Grand Rapids Community College, according to the release.
He describes the website as the tool that connects local mental health patients to the vast network of resources available in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan, Ionia, Barry and Muskegon counties.
There is currently information on eight resources listed in Kent County, including Arbor Circle, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, and Anxiety Resource Center.
“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” Metz said of her engagement with organizations. “A lot of these organizations are busy trying to run smoothly and juggling all sorts of different things. It gives them a place where they can direct people for information.
Since college, Metz said he was looking for direction. He said he suddenly felt the need to help other people, especially when many cannot afford to meet in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January 2021, Metz said he started building the website and has been working on it on his own ever since, sending out surveys to local organizations and getting 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 database of therapists, Metz said.
“The whole structure is there and people can access the website right now if they want to,” Metz said. “There’s a navigation bar, and I shared my personal story as the first blog post to kick off that. But I’m updating it and building it continuously.
According to Metz, he expects the local resources page to be completed by May 1 and the therapist directory by July 1.
Residents can get website updates on the West Michigan Mental Health LLC 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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