Grand Traverse County Commissioners Vote to Dissolve Relationship with Northern Lakes Community Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Grand Traverse County is taking action.

County commissioners made a bold decision this morning to dissolve their relationship with Northern Lakes Community Mental Health.

“People are dying, our families are hurting and the community is suffering from a lack, a distinct lack, of services in our community, so it’s time to take drastic action,” said Grand Traverse County District Six Commissioner Darryl Nelson.

Commissioner Nelson led the discussion that ended in a vote to dissolve the county’s relationship with Northern Lakes saying they don’t meet the needs of the people.

“I thought it was time to stop talking, we’re not getting a response from Northern Lakes, so I felt it’s time to take the next step,” said Nelson.

The move has overwhelming support from the community.

“We need CMH support in so many ways, we need it in our jail, we need it in our homes, we need it in our streets,” said a Peninsula Township Resident.

Board Member of Before, During and After Incarceration (BDAI) and mental health activist, Kate Dahlstrom, says Northern Lakes coverage area is too wide.

“We have people being turned away routinely from in-patient care at the emergency department and what’s happening here? We need to change,” said Dahlstrom.

Northern Lakes currently serves over 200,000 people in Michigan, spread thin across six counties.

These include: Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Wexford, Missaukee and Roscommon.

“Responsiveness is the key here,” said one Traverse City resident. “As a smaller, one-county or perhaps two-county organization, we’d have much greater flexibility and focus.”

Law enforcement is another area in desperate need of more effective resources right now.

“I just came from a training, a crisis-intervention training where we are training the officers to be more than cops,” said BDAI Co-Founder Toni Stanfield. “They’re trying to do their best, however we do have a systemic problem in this community.”

The county says the separation from Northern Lakes could take well over a year to take effect.

They claim that in the meantime, service should still be available and no one will be left behind.