Northern Michigan mental health stakeholders attended a virtual meeting Friday to discuss recommendations in crisis care.
The recommendations are the result of a six-month study of crisis care in North County and Northern Lakes Community Mental Health’s 12-county region. The groups contracted TBD Solutions to perform the study in fall of 2020. TBD Solutions used several methods including 650 survey responses, 3 focus groups of 50 participants and 1,500 data elements to reach their conclusion.
Director of Clinical and Crisis Services for TBD, Travis Atkinson, during the meeting, told a story about his grandmother and his aunt who each received treatment for manic depression (bipolar disorder). Each went to different mental health care facilities where the outcomes were not the same. The story is a relatable one for those working in mental health.
“Some of you have family members, some of you work every day alongside people who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency or a mental health crisis,” says Atkinson.
The recommendations for the 90 individual providers, doctors, nonprofits and community leaders were:
- Develop and/or expand crisis services to include a crisis stabilization unit,
psychiatric urgent care, adult crisis residential, and additional child and adult
psychiatric inpatient beds.
- Assure crisis services are available to all payer types.
- Develop a collaborative crisis metrics portfolio to monitor and continuously
improve system performance.
- Develop Access Solutions that Minimize Reliance on First Responders.
Development and expansion of crisis services includes; adding 6 crisis stabilization and crisis residential beds in Traverse City, adding 6 psychiatric urgent care beds in Petoskey and a 16 bed inpatient psychiatric unit in Cheboygan.
“It’s in most of our best interests as a community to try and be aware of the needs, the deep needs, in our community,” says Kate Dahlstrom, board member for National Alliance on Mental Illness in Traverse City, who attended the call. “It affects so many different parts, law enforcement, corrections and families of course.”
Dahlstrom says it was a very thorough study but was missing something for her.
“The one part i was disappointed in, I will be honest with you, is that it did not have current plans for youth residential or psychiatric beds.”
In the study, the only specific recommendation for child crisis care is that Cheboygan Hospital create a unit of 10 adult beds and 6 childrens beds. Dahlstrom agrees Cheboygan needs the increase in beds but the need for kids is present across the region.
Funding for the crisis services will depend on the facility. It was suggested that services be covered by commercial health care plans, crisis providers and Medicaid. Proposing pilot programs and lobbying, in addition to partnering with the CMH Association of Michigan and the Michigan Association of Health Plans will also help. There’s also access to American Rescue Plan funds.
“There’s a lot of money available now and a lot of this money through the rescue plan will not be available in the future and if we don’t ask for it and do something bigger and get it then someone else will,” says Dahlstrom.
Christine Gebhard, CEO of North County CMH says they hope to begin crisis residential services within the next six months. Those are services that provide crisis care in a home setting.
But the recommendations are just that, recommendations.
“NCCMH will now be assessing, along with our community partners, what can be accomplished. we are absolutely committed to enhancing behavioral health crisis services in our region,” says Gebhard.