Shepherd Family’s Plea for Help Sparks Conversation on Mental Health System

“The system is breaking our hearts and it’s hurting our kid. The system is abusing our child,” said Jay Gross from Shepherd.

The pleas from a northern Michigan father, begging for help finding his son the mental health care he needs are getting statewide attention.

Jay Gross posted the video over the weekend.

He says he and his wife Jo Ann spent two weeks trying to find their son a spot to get inpatient mental health treatment.

That’s when jay took his plea to social media.

It was Friday afternoon when Jay Gross went to his car and broke down.

He posted a more than 10 minute video to YouTube Sunday, begging for help finding his son the mental health care he desperately needed after two weeks at the hospital in Alma.

“I thought you know what I’m mad enough, I threw the camera up and I just let it rip,” said Jay.

“As we got to day number 14 enough was enough, he wasn’t going to move, things were becoming impossible. You call one place and they say nope, but call this place instead, you call that place you can’t get a bed,” said Jo Ann.

With nearly 90,000 plays with shares across social media, the Gross family learned their son finally had a spot at a facility shortly after posting the video.

“Suddenly within 24 hours our son was in a clinic which, a parent will do anything they can for their son, I know it probably ruffled feathers, I don’t care, because I’m not blaming any people, any individuals, we’re not angry at anybody, but the system is so broken,” said Jay.

And Jay and Jo Ann say the approach to mental health, and the system around it must change.

“I spent so much time doing things I didn’t need to do, and our son sat, and he sat,” said Jo Ann.

“People are reaching out left to right to help us, we’ve heard from reps, we’ve heard from senators, and I’m looking at this thinking, it took a video to do this and after 14 days, I’m mind blown,” said Jay.

And on Wednesday, Jay and Jo Ann will testify on their experience in front of the House Appropriations Health and Human Services Subcommittee.

MDHHS released this statement on the issue:

“MDHHS is strongly committed to providing quicker access to mental health services – for children and adults. Providing acute psychiatric care — especially for children – is a national challenge. Michigan and other states around the country have continued to develop strategies to tackle it. The latest impact of COVID-19 has likely challenged the system more as psychiatric units adapt to treating individuals with COVID-19. In Michigan we have a number of strategies that have rolled out to help decrease the wait times for anyone who presents in need of acute psychiatric care. These strategies have included expanding access points through more robust crisis services, working with stakeholders on enabling legislation, and partnering with stakeholders to streamline psychiatric admissions decisions while ensuring appropriate medical triage when needed. We continue to take lessons learned locally and nationally and attempt to apply them to strategy and solutions here in Michigan.”

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