Mental health clients tell Missaukee board how services helped them, turned lives around

By Karen Hopper Usher,  Cadillac News, 10/20/17

Isolation leads to trouble.

That was the message two clients of “Club Cadillac” delivered to Missaukee County commissioners Tuesday.

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health presented its annual report to commissioners and used the opportunity to showcase Club Cadillac, one of its programs that serves people with mental health problems.

Two clients described their experience with Club Cadillac to commissioners.

One woman described a long history of cutting herself and dozens of hospitalizations. Since she started visiting Club Cadillac, she said she hasn’t been hospitalized at all.

That’s a money-saver.

Just two days in the hospital costs as much as a whole year attending the clubhouse, a Northern Lakes employee told commissioners.

Club Cadillac is geared toward providing community and employment programs to people with mental health problems.

Clients can use the clubhouse to talk, socialize and help each other solve life’s problems, like helping each other move.

But it also provides work — joining means you commit to “work days” at the clubhouse, like preparing lunch for 30 to 40 people.

Eventually, proving that you can do that means demonstrating you can hold a job.

Living on your own and holding a job is recovery, the program told commissioners.

Another Club Cadillac client told commissioners he’d spent years in his cabin in the woods in isolation. He once went 93 days without talking to other people.

It wasn’t until he landed in the Missaukee County jail that he realized he had bipolar disorder, he said.

His said his jailers were just trying to help him, he realizes now. He thanked commissioners for the jail referral program that helped him turn his life around. He has glasses now, a phone, running water and human contact.

“I think you should give those people a chance,” he said.

Karl Kovacs, the chief executive officer of Northern Lakes, thanked board members for their support, telling them the program serves 299 people in Missaukee County and spends $2.8 million. Most of that money goes to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Many of them are the most vulnerable people we serve,” Kovacs said.

In bygone days, many of them would have been institutionalized, he said.

The presentation was “very encouraging,” said Frank Vanderwal, chairman of the board of commissioners.