Counseling and Information
Got a question you need an answer to? Probably there's some place to call around the city which has the answer. This list of groups and phone services is perhaps the most useful, as these places can usually direct you to all the others. Through various information places in the city, you can find out which organization is dealing with some specific area you're interested in, or even find someone who can help you solve a tough problem.
Of course, the city, the Universities and the county have their own central numbers which can direct you to anything you need which you think might be in their jurisdiction. The U of M information number can also tell you what movies, concerts or lectures are happening on campus for any given day.
Community Switchboard also keeps track of what's happening in the city for entertainment. The Switchboard is the best place to call when you have a question you don't know the answer to, as they can almost always either answer the question or get you to the right place to find out.
You can get general information on women's issues, from child care and consciousness-raising groups to abortion and rape from the Women's Crisis Center. The Crisis Center also handles phone-in problems, and does general counseling.
A number of groups across the city do various kinds of counseling work. Ozone House offers around-the-clock counseling particularly aimed at young people. They are the most sympathetic agency for runaways and young people with family problems in the area, maintaining a young staff that recognizes that young people should have as much right to determine their lives as "adults." Ozone also is helpful for people new to the city with nowhere to go. They help people get oriented and can often provide a temporary crash pad for those who have nowhere to go. In addition, Ozone has been running free lunch program, for people short on cash who are passing through.
76-GUIDE is a 24-hour call-in number, which is particularly aimed at U of M students. Guide can refer people to University facilities, and is willing to listen to problems and complaints on everything from poor grades to potential suicides. The service is staffed by students, and they usually are most understanding about any problems other students face.
Through the county's Community Mental Health Program, a 24-hour Crisis Walk-In Center is maintained for instant help. The trained staff can deal with immediate problems, or help you find more continual help if you need it. The center sets up limited counseling sessions at no cost for people having problems.
Community Mental Health also has programs for drug addicts at Octagon House (with one in A2 and another in Ypsi). Another county service is a 24-hour Suicide Prevention line.
For students at U of M, several counseling places are available. The Psych Clinic on Huron provides low-cost professional help. Another little known service of the clinic is free testing to help students decide on a career field by helping to find out what skills and interests they have, and what it means in terms of possible fields of study. However, it should be noted that different standardized tests are used for males and females, which means there may be less validity to these tests than could be hoped for. Women are encouraged to ask to take both tests to avoid being channeled into more traditional female jobs (which usually means less money and less prestige).
Health Service also provides psychological counseling, and once again provides for continuous sessions for those who need it.
Another office of the University which does counseling is the Office of Religious Affairs. At one time, it was one of the few places women could go for abortion referrals, when outdated laws made most abortions illegal.
A more specialized information program is Drug Help, a part of the Community Center Coordinating Council (which includes Community Switchboard, Ozone, and the Creative Arts Workshop). Drug Help has several areas it works in. First, it has a call-in number for instant drug education. Want to know what some little red or green pill will do to your body? They can tell you what the effects are and if it is dangerous. They do both legal and "illegal" drugs. They can sometimes be useful in checking on prescription drugs to find out if your doctor is ripping you off.
Drug Help runs educational programs in the schools and in University classes about drugs, presenting a more honest viewpoint than the usual textbook "danger" lessons.
Drug Help is also an emergency number for drug problems. If you've taken something that's freaking you out, or a friend seems likely to drift into a coma, they can tell you what to do. There is almost always someone on duty to handle emergencies, and they are not about to report callers to the police.
One last note on complaints. One of the best places to go about many complaints is to your elected "representatives." State Rep Perry Bullard now has a "Constituents Office," just to help people with legal problems or in dealing with state agencies. County commissioners and city Council members are always willing to listen (at least the more liberal ones are. Don't expect a Republican to be too helpful if you are under thirty or have long hair.)