Grand Traverse Jail Ad Hoc Committee Discusses Options For More Mental Health Care In Jail

A Grand Traverse County Committee discussed problems about the county jail Tuesday.

It comes after a woman was found dead in the jail just last month.

That’s on top of several other suicide attempts over the last year.

The Jail Ad Hoc Committee met to discuss solutions on the problem.

We filed a FOIA to the Grand Traverse County Jail and learned in the last year they have had 16 suicide attempts with two resulting in death.

Tuesday’s meeting was to discuss improving mental health issues.

“We have acknowledged, and it has become very apparent that we’re not meeting the mental health needs for the Grand Traverse County Jail,” says Sonny Wheelock, Chair of Grand Traverse Ad Hoc Jail Committee.

Currently the Grand Traverse County Jail only gets two hours a week from their medical provider for mental health and 10 hours a week from Northern Lakes Community Mental Health.

“Community Mental Health, because of their structure providing services to their clients, well not everyone that gets arrested and incarcerated is on the client list for Community Mental Health, so unless it’s an emergent situation, we cannot give mental health services for those individuals,” says Wheelock.

Because of this, the committee voiced ideas about how to close that gap and provide more services to inmates.

“Trying to increase the availability of mental health services in the jail, whether that be done with nurse practitioners or psychologists. The need for improved assessment of those people that come in whether they say they have a mental issue or not, they need to be assessed sooner,” says Wheelock.

The meeting ended by asking Northern Lakes and others to come back with ideas on how more mental health services can be provided to the inmates.

“I think this was a great meeting, I think it really is a community issue that impacts all of us. I am hopeful that the county commissioners who formed this Ad Hoc Committee, and us at Northern Lake at are happy to be a part of the collaboration,” says Karl Kovacs, CEO at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health.