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EAGLE RIVER – While the local sheriff’s departments have been handling mental illness transports from the four counties area to facilities in Sault Ste. Marie, and even as far as Detroit, what the May 27 Mental Health Presentation at Eagle River showed is that there are actually more local institutions providing and providing mental health services than the area is credited with. The Western Upper Peninsula doesn’t have facilities for every need, but there are services. While the panel of representatives from more than a dozen organizations spoke at the May 27 event, some spoke of gaps and weaknesses in the Copper Country mental health system, while others spoke of the system’s strengths.
Leslie Griffith, Head of the Outpatient Program at Copper Country Mental Health (CCMH) spoke to the panel and audience about some of the services available through CCMH. She spoke about both the organization’s assets and its liabilities.
The mission of the Copper Country Mental Health Services Board, which serves Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, and Ontonagon counties, is to ensure that appropriate, cost-effective, high quality behavioral health services are available to eligible individuals throughout the four counties. CCMH Services offers a range of services that aim to increase independence, improve the quality of life and support the integration and inclusion of the people cared for in the community.
“Our main focus” said Griffith, “Are people with a chronic and severe mental illness who have an intellectual and developmental disability and children who have what is known as a severe emotional disorder.”
The organization serves individuals from pregnancy to end of life through office locations in Houghton and Baraga Counties, she said, but the Keweenaw County office is in Calumet, Houghton County.
“We also have a clubhouse; we have an autism program in a separate building “, She said, “And we have an intensive adult program called the Assertive Community Treatment Team, and we also have the institute which is our prevention and training wing.”
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is an internationally recognized model for intensive, community-based case management. In the ACT model, case management is provided by a team of individuals representing multiple disciplines. The team provides most of the services and provides direct support. Case numbers tend to be smaller and most ACT services are provided outside of an office setting. Contact with consumers is usually frequent and takes place in the environment in which the consumers live and work. Employees work with consumers and use motivational conversation practices to increase intrinsic motivation and enable lasting change and recovery.
With a full-time staff of 189 and 50 part-time employees, CCMH served 1,004 people in 2020, an average of around 700 people, who are open to services at all times.
“We primarily care for people with Medicaid”, said Griffith, “But we look after people with a different private insurance policy if they meet the criteria.”
Everyone who uses our services has a multitude of rights that we must honor and protect, she emphasized.
The institute offers a variety of educational, prevention, and training programs including: Adolescent Development, Wealth Building, Child Development, Community Education, Depression Education, Infant Mental Health, Mental Health Training, Parent Education, Stress Management, Substance Abuse Prevention, Violence Prevention, and developing the social skills of young people.
Griffith said her organization has not had a significant impact as a result of the COVID pandemic, but is seeing seasonal increases in services.
“In terms of trends, we did not see any significant change with COVID in the past year,” She said. “We immediately saw a slight decline in services in the spring, but then it normalized again in the fall of 2020.”
Griffith said her organization had an average of about 25 new person requests for services per month, and regarding crisis services, she said there had been no significant changes due to COVID.
“We always see a difference in spring and autumn” said Griffith. “These are always busier times of the year. But we went back and looked at the data for the past three years, and in a given quarter, three months, we offer between 30 and 120 crisis screenings within three months. “
In the last few months it has been around 70 per quarter.
“The other trend, Tele-Health, has obviously become something that is more common with COVID and we have found that consumers appreciate this (option) and it helps us address issues such as transportation and services,
“In relation to specific services” She continued “We have residential complexes, we have and I believe we operate 10 residential groups in the four districts. We have an emergency service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We offer community programs to support individuals who live in the community. “
The funding program is just that: Community Support is a program for people with persistent mental illness. Community Support provides hands-on help at home and in the community on topics such as drug management, money management, grocery shopping, and housekeeping.
“This applies to people of all ages, regardless of whether they have a mental illness or a developmental disorder.” said Griffith. “This includes things like medical supplies and also offering skills to build individuals so they can live and work successfully in our communities.”
Regarding CCMH’s efforts to increase resources, Griffith said the organization received a six-month five-year scholarship coordinated with the Copper County Intermediate School District (CCISD) called Project Aware.
The purpose of this program is to build or expand the capacity of government education agencies in partnership with government mental health agencies (SMHAs) who oversee school-age adolescents and with three local education agencies (LEAs) to:
– Raising school age youth awareness of mental health problems;
– Provide training for school staff and other adults who interact with school age adolescents to identify and respond to mental health problems;
– School-age adolescents who may have behavioral health problems (including severe emotional disorders) [SED] or severe mental illness [SMI]) and their families about the services they need. SAMHSA expects this program to focus on partnerships and collaboration between state and local systems to promote the healthy development of school age youth and prevent youth violence.
One of three organizations in the state receiving the scholarship, CCMH is designed to identify and educate the community on the mental health of young people.
“So we will do a lot of trainings” Griffith said “And in the next few years a lot of contact with the community in coordination with them, especially teachers and school staff, but the community at large, and the second part of that is making sure these teens have access to behavioral health services.”
In short, the goal is to identify children in need of services and proven services between the two agencies, “Griffith said.
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