From the left, Jennifer Shumaker, Bayley Coggeshall and Pasquale Vignola speak at the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan’s 2019 Fall Conference. CNS Healthcare was the recipient of grant funding to help provide behavioral health services to local residents.

From the left, Jennifer Shumaker, Bayley Coggeshall and Pasquale Vignola speak at the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan’s 2019 Fall Conference. CNS Healthcare was the recipient of grant funding to help provide behavioral health services to local residents.

Photo provided by Jennifer Shumaker


Grants help mental health providers offer assistance to ‘uninsured’ and ‘under-insured’

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published December 5, 2020

 Due to grant funding, CNS Healthcare can provide behavioral health services to local residents, “regardless of ability to pay.”

Due to grant funding, CNS Healthcare can provide behavioral health services to local residents, “regardless of ability to pay.”

Photo provided by Jennifer Shumaker

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METRO DETROIT — A decline in the mental health of people around the world can be counted among the detrimental effects that have stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, some resources have been made available to help people who may be suffering as a result of COVID, as well as from other issues that can affect an individual’s overall mental well-being.

Community mental health providers in Michigan have been providing residents with comprehensive behavioral health care through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics grant funding.

Among the recipients of the grant is CNS Healthcare, which has locations in Southfield, Waterford, Novi, Detroit and Pontiac.

According to its website, CNS is a nonprofit human services agency that provides comprehensive behavioral health services.

Its support services include psychiatry, medication management, psychotherapy, nursing services and case management.

According to Jennifer Shumaker, who is a clinical program director for CNS and a project director for  Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, the grant received goes through September 2022 for $2 million per year.

“With this grant, we can see people who are underinsured, uninsured and underserved, regardless of ability to pay and regardless of where they’re living in the community,” Shumaker said. “We’ve been able to use grant funding to be embedded in school districts. … We’ve been able to strengthen the crisis systems in the communities that we’re serving.”

CNS Chief Clinical Officer Marcy Johnson shared her perspective on the grant.

“The grant funding has been a game changer,” Johnson said. “Anyone coming to us, reaching out to us, no matter where they live, no matter their ability to pay, can receive the host of services that we offer at our agency to support them. They get an entire care team to help them through.”

Shumaker said CNS offers a wide variety of programming, including for individuals and/or families dealing with “severe mental illness (and) serious emotional disturbance.”

Despite the array of mental health issues CNS assists people with, ones related to COVID have been at the forefront recently.

“I think this COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in some shape or form,” Shumaker said. “I think with the people we serve, the isolation has been very hard. We’ve seen an increase in substance use, an increase in hospitalizations, increase in suicide. Having the treatment team stay connected with our individuals via telehealth or in-person when emergencies arise has been really beneficial for the people that we serve because our mental health services are truly essential, especially at a time like this.”

Technology has helped CNS provide its services safely.

“Even early on in the pandemic, where individuals were fearful to even come out of their home, if we didn’t have the resource to reach them virtually — we’ve been able to get smartphones to them with packages of technology so we can reach those that wouldn’t by other means have any resources to stay connected,” Johnson said. “Even as we continue to offer in-person care, (we’re) doing that more on a critical need. Staying connected virtually has been essential.”

CNS’s plan of attack for combating mental health issues includes offering services to school-age children.

“The kids are really struggling, having to be virtual and missing out on major, significant, life-changing school events — graduations — it’s been hard on them, and for our school-based clinicians to stay connected to them throughout the summer and during the school year, just to help them through those extra challenges, feeling isolated and down about missing key events in their lives, it’s been critical,” Johnson said.

Aside from having a therapist at some elementary schools, all the way up to colleges, according to Johnson, a peer-based program is also offered, which involves peers who have lived through similar experiences working as part of a “care team” to offer assistance to students struggling with mental health issues.

School district employees who see children before they even arrive at school can also help call attention to potential problems.

“We’ve done mental health first-aid trainings at almost all the schools that we are present in, as well as with bus drivers,” Shumaker said. “As strange as that sounds sometimes to people, bus drivers need those trainings and that coaching, as well, because a lot of problems stem on that bus ride. Most of the time, it’s stemming from a mental health concern, not just a behavioral issue.”

The help being offered to students can make a big difference, both for them and society.

“It’s helping students be more successful at school,” Shumaker said. “We’re seeing students graduating from high school and going on and continuing services with us because they’ve seen the impact that it’s had on their success.”

For more information about services provided, go to cnshealthcare.org, call (877) 211-8611 or send an email to info@cnshealthcare.org.

Individuals seeking support can also call (248) 745-4900.

Shumaker shared some suggestions for those who can use assistance.

“Make the call or go to our website, send an email in, and somebody will reach out to you to get you connected with services,” she said. “Sometimes, making that call is the hardest step, but once that’s done, there will be a treatment team of people that will help support somebody along the way, in a very welcoming and warm environment, to get all the supports needed to help people be successful.”

Johnson offered similar advice.

“Sometimes, the biggest barrier is someone just reaching out,” she said. “We say to people, ‘Just make the call. Don’t sit there alone and struggle. We’ve got an entire care team.’”

Support is available day and night.

“We have 24/7 on-call staff,” Shumaker said. “So even if it’s in the middle of the night and someone needs someone to talk to, we will make sure that people get connected to services that they need.”

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