What is Copper Country Mental Health?
CCMH is a public governmental entity called a Mental Health Authority that is organized under Michigan Law. We were formed by Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties in 1963, but we are now an agency separate from their direct governance. However, we are governed by a 12-member Board selected by each of the counties.
We are also a team of over 200 people who provide a continuum of support, based on a person’s needs. Many people know that we provide counseling, psychiatric services, and crisis assessments, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our talented staff serve in areas such as training and prevention, outpatient and community-based services, and acute services. We also operate a peer-led Clubhouse, an Autism program, and nine group homes.
What is your mission? It is the mission of the Copper Country Mental Health Services Board to ensure that appropriate, cost efficient, and quality behavioral health services are accessible to eligible persons in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties.
Can you boil that statement down to a single idea? Yes, we support independence in the community. State and Federal mental health legislation in the early 1960’s was largely aimed at providing care and treatment to people with severe mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities in the community, rather than in large state-run institutions. But we don’t want to simply provide custodial care in homes in the community vs. in a large institution; we want to support individuals at whatever level they need, to help them reach their full potential.
What are your core values? We believe that all individuals have tremendous value and the same basic rights, regardless of disability status.
How are you funded? Most of our allocations (almost 90%) come from Medicaid and Healthy Michigan, but we also receive general funding for non-Medicaid recipients, local funds from the counties, funding from the Rice Memorial Clinic Foundation, and we manage several grants. When a recipient has private insurance, we bill that company.
Do you see people without Medicaid? Yes, CCMH serves over 100 people who do not have Medicaid, but who have symptoms serious enough to qualify for our services.
Why don’t you serve every person who requests services? Community Mental Health Centers are rooted in Michigan law, in particular the Mental Health Code. These laws were a response to public outcry against the harsh living conditions in some state mental institutions, and their goal was to shift treatment from institutional settings into the community. For this reason, Section 116 of the Mental Health Code requires that priority in services be given to children and adults with the most severe forms of mental illness and developmental disability. Put simply, CCMH is not designed or funded to provide services to people with mild to moderate forms of mental illness and developmental disability. However, if someone in crisis walks into any of our clinics, we provide help and support, regardless of insurance.
How do you know if you have been successful?
Our greatest evidence of success is the many people who are able to successfully live in our community. In 1965 there were nearly 30,000 Michigan residents in state psychiatric hospitals; now there are fewer than 1,000. CCMH has nine group homes, and some of our residents were moved from Newberry Regional Hospital over 30 years ago. They enjoy freedoms such as planning their day and spending time outdoors that were not available in a state institution. We have community-based programs that help people find and maintain housing and employment, thus avoiding many psychiatric hospitalizations by giving a high level of support. Not only do our residential and community-based programs offer people the chance to realize their full potential, but they are also much more cost-effective than institutional care.
In addition, our outpatient services collect data on effectiveness, and our Quality Improvement Committee regularly reviews program outcome measures. We send out over 1,000 Consumer Satisfaction surveys each year and publish them on our website.
Why does it take so long for a person in the emergency room to get into a psychiatric hospital? I’ve heard that CCMH sometimes takes a week to get to the emergency room.
CCMH is required to make a decision about whether or not to hospitalize a person within three hours of the request for an assessment by the emergency room. People do sometimes have to wait for days in the emergency room, but the delay is not caused by CCMH. Private hospitals own and operate inpatient psychiatric units, and they do not have to accept referrals that we make, which is the reason for the long delays.