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Barry County Mental Health Authority learns, develops plans to address 2019 priorities

Rich Thiemkey, executive director of the Barry County Community Mental Health Authority, gave county commissioners a review of the authority’s annual report and its 2019 community assessment needs Tuesday.


Over the past year, the authority exceeded every professional standard set by the State of Michigan, such things as access to service and hospital recidivism rate.


In addition, the authority continues to be a leader in the use of validated tools such as the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale, the Supports Intensity Scale, the Level of Care Utilization System, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.


Whatever services they are providing, Thiemkey said, “our goal is to provide the right service, at the right time and in the right amount.”


The 2018 assessment defined five priority issues. They are below with some, but not all, of the ways mental health will work to meet the challenges.


1. Services to schools named a priority for an increase in anxiety and depression among younger students, suicidal thoughts or self-harm. Efforts include the authority website link for schools to put on their websites, continue the Signs of Suicide presentations, additional funding for services in schools, and take part in a professional development day for teachers.


2. Psychiatric needs have an increased demand/need in adolescents and a provider shortage. The authority will continue to search for an additional psychiatrist and partnerships with e-psychiatry, a warm hand off to other community agencies and Cherry Health grant exploration.


3. Substance use disorder services are a priority because of an increase in marijuana use by multiple stakeholders and other substances (vaping). Efforts will be to explore research-based treatment like acupuncture, additional prevention programs for schools and additional partner/community education sessions.


4. Individuals with mental illness being incarcerated are a priority because people are jailed instead of receiving treatment for mental health issues. The authority will expand jail diversion services and Stepping Up Program and continue to enhance the communication plan between the court/jail and mental health.


5. Awareness and communication of available mental health services is a priority because of the knowledge gap of eligibility criteria for receiving services between the community and community mental health. The authority will continually update its website, and arrange face-to-face meetings with community partners.


In 2018:

Barry County residents served …. 2011

Expenditures by client population, intellectual and development disability… 51.4 percent

Mental Illness adult….23.4 percent

Mental Illness child….12.2percent

Substance Abuse Disorder….6.4 percent

Administration…6.6 percent.


Some statistics:

*1083 requested mental health services

*983 were scheduled for an assessment

*708 met eligibility criteria.

Answering a question from Commissioner David Jackson, Thiemkey said if someone doesn’t qualify, perhaps because the facility does not offer a program for their problem, “We’ll connect you to someone who can help you.”

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