MI Mental Health interviews Ayse Buyuktur about the importance of community health workers

June 2, 2023 | In The Media, Issue Media Group

CHRT’s Ayse Büyüktür, program manager for the MI Community Care (MiCC) program, recently spoke with MI Mental Health about the extensive work community health workers do to support the behavioral health needs of residents.

Across the state, community mental health agencies enlist community health workers to extend their reach, writes reporter Rylee Barnsdale in “Community health workers bring mental health home.”

Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, for example, partners with MI Community Care to provide CHW services.

MI Community Care works in both Washtenaw and Livingston counties, providing cross-sector care to support the needs of residents with complex lives and conditions. The story outlines how MiCC CHWs–centered at the Washtenaw Health Plan and the Livingston County Community Mental Health agency, support MiCC participants under challenging situations, helping them get the care and support they need.

One role of a CHW is performing home visits to patients to “meet them where they are,” Büyüktür explains. Home visits go beyond “simply helping to make appointments and phone calls,” she continues. During home visits, CHWs also can analyze what state an individual and their home are in and find community resources to improve their conditions, and to lessen feelings of social isolation.

When asked, “Are there changes for CHWs and how health care systems recognize them?” Büyüktür says Michigan “is working out how to pay CHWs who service people on Medicaid,” which is something she and others across the state are really excited about. To appropriately compensate CHWs for their work, though, requires understanding their value.

“[CHWs] do so much for us. It’s hard in some ways to describe it because they are changing lives. That’s not a cliche in this situation. It’s reality.”