Mental health services reopening

North Country Community Mental Health (NCCMH) is reopening its offices for services on Monday June 15 after weeks of serving people primarily through virtual means such as telephone and telehealth videoconferencing as well as in community settings.

“North Country aligned its plan for resuming in-person services with the Governor’s MI Safe Start Plan. With Region 6 being designated at Stage 5 (containing) and with the flattening of new COVID cases in our service area, we’re reopening our offices and gradually resuming in-person services,” says Christine Gebhard, North Country CEO.

Gebhard says a number of safety modifications were made in anticipation of reopening: “In preparation for resuming limited in-person services at our clinics, we made a number of safety modifications to help protect the health of our staff and clients. Each outpatient clinic and clubhouse has a respiratory hygiene station placed at the entrance. It contains hand sanitizer, face masks, and tissues. Staff and clients will complete a health screening when they enter. We also modified the check-in and check-out windows in reception areas with a pass-through so windows can remain closed.”

Other safety measures include requirements for face coverings for both clients and staff, chairs spaced and floors marked for physical distancing, and new disinfecting protocols implemented, with frequent sanitizing of touch points during the day and deep cleaning at night.

“We will limit the number of appointments and staff in the office each day, prioritizing clients with highest need. We will gradually resume in-person operations and will continue to maximize telehealth to the extent that we are allowed in order to keep people safe. Clients have appreciated the telehealth options that have been available during the pandemic both from a safety standpoint and also from the perspective of convenience and travel. We are not rushing to fully resume office-based services. We’re move slowly and monitoring as we go.”

Clubhouses in Petoskey and Rapid City remain closed at this time, although outreach continues to members with food deliveries, phone calls, and videoconference meetings. Planning and preparations are underway for reopening soon.

NCCMH will continue to offer a Warm Help Line to assist individuals in the community who are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 crisis. Anyone in the community may call the Warm Help Line at 1-877-470-7130, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and speak with a mental health professional.

The 24/7 Crisis Help Line also continues. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call our Crisis Help Line at 1-877-470-4668. The Crisis Help Line is operational 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

No preauthorization is needed to use the Warm or Crisis Lines. They are available as a free community benefit.

North Country Community Mental Health provides services to residents of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Kalkaska and Otsego Counties experiencing a serious mental illness, severe emotional problem, or intellectual/developmental disability, including individuals with co-occurring substance use disorder. Persons wishing to know more about the agency are encouraged to visit www.norcocmh.org or to access services call 877-470-7130.

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