No surge in local mental health cases during 2020 pandemic

Officials from mental health organizations around the country say 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging to manage in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials from Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority recently echoed the same sentiment during a fiscal year 2020 annual report presentation to Alpena County Commissioners.

Community Mental Health Authority Director Nena Sork said the agency also prepared for an increase in mental health crises, suicides, domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. But she was pleased to report to commissioners that despite the 2,278 patients the agency provided service to last year, the number of referrals from Child Protective Services was down. In addition, Sork said there were no suicides, compared to an annual average of 1 to 2. There has already been one in 2021.

The agency also maintains nine group homes for developmentally disabled persons. Sork is proud that none of the 86 people living in those homes last year contracted COVID-19.

The Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority was open during all of 2020. Sork said the agency offered virtual visits for those patients who didn’t feel comfortable coming into the office due to COVID.

Sork took over the top spot at the agency six months before the pandemic. The agency serves patients in Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Presque Isle counties.