Heart in Hands

NLCMHA, Munson, Community Partners apply for funds to build mental health center

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Authority (NLCMHA), Munson Healthcare, and a group of community partners from across Grand Traverse County filed a proposal with the county commission this week requesting American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funding for the development of the Grand Traverse Center for Mental Wellness.

“Each day, members of our northern Michigan community struggle to find and access needed mental health services, leading them to seek care in our emergency departments or go without care which quickly escalates to a crisis,” said Munson Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Laura Glenn. “This funding proposal marks a significant next step toward expanding much-needed mental and behavioral health services for children, youth and adults in our region.”

Since last fall, representatives from NLCMHA, Munson Healthcare, Northern Michigan Regional Entity, Northwest Michigan Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR), Grand Traverse County, and United Way of Northwest Michigan have been at work on the next phase of a plan to bring mental health, substance abuse disorder and crisis services to one location in Traverse City. 

The community partners highlighted an uptick in suicidal and mental health-related emergency room visits or 911 calls since Covid. In 2021 alone, more than 950 people were treated at Munson Medical Center’s Emergency Department in Traverse City for a suicidal-related diagnosis. Grand Traverse 911 took more than 800 suicidal or mental health-related calls and the Grand Traverse County Sheriff took nearly 500 separate calls that same year. The demand has continued as local communities emerged from the pandemic. 

The group requested $5 million in funding from ARPA funds. These funds would go towards the project’s first phase and will bring existing access and crisis services under one roof, 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, providing a coordinated, systemic response for children, youth, and adults regardless of insurance or ability to pay. Services would be added or expanded in additional phases as the center is developed, staff are hired, and resources are secured.

  • In Phase Two, nursing and psychiatric assessments will be added; and
  • Phase Three would incorporate a Crisis Residential Unit (CRU) and/or Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) beds for youth and adults.

“We are grateful for the community’s engagement in addressing this complex problem and the Grand Traverse County Commission’s consideration regarding use of the federal funds,” said Brian Martinus, NLCMHA Interim CEO. “With a vision, strong local partnerships and community momentum, we are positioned to increase access to quality mental health services in northern Michigan – another important piece to the puzzle we’re trying to solve to get people the support they need.”

If funds are approved, the goal is to launch Phase One services by the end of 2024. Site selection is in development now. 

“This is a true testament to Northern Michigan community members and partners coming together to make good things happen for our neighbors,” said Seth Johnson, Co-Chair of the Community Advisory Group and CEO/President of United Way of Northwest Michigan. “The community will benefit from this mental wellness center in more ways than one.”