How local mental health services span schools, jail, courts

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part three of a three-part series looking at mental health in Manistee County court cases, how incidents impact residents, courts, police and resources available in the area and in jail. Part three centers on the connections between treatment in the area as well as through the Manistee County Jail.

MANISTEE — From the Manistee County court system to its jails and schools, mental health challenges are met with collaborations by leadership hoping to help people in ways that are constantly morphing.


Karen Goodman, Centra Wellness chief operating officer, has been in her career field for more than 30 years.

Goodman said over the years, mental health care has improved but it is still not the best.

She said looking from a system-level view, “we all know the mental health system does not work, but we haven’t had the conversation of what would work.”

Goodman said new mental health career field staff tend to have fewer years of job experience to pull from while trying to solve issues.

“We are losing a lot of our knowledge base,” Goodman said. “A lot of that basic knowledge of the past and where we’ve been and what we did and how we got through it is being depleted.”

That is scary, she said.

She said the newer employees aren’t as likely to stick around for 20 to 30 years in the career like their predecessors may have.

One other point that is an issue statewide and especially in the region is a lack of psychiatric beds and mental health care staff.

Goodman said another struggle is that there is currently a high level of national trauma being experienced during the pandemic with parents, teachers, students, health care workers and others, which leads to a high level of reactive, angry people.

That has also impacted staffing changes as workers leave their respective fields for other jobs instead.

To Goodman, there shouldn’t be taboos about mental health topics and she says it should be just like going to see one’s medical doctor: accepted and encouraged.

One strength these days that she noted is that medications are more effective than decades ago and are able to help people manage certain conditions more effectively and reliably.

However while medications have improved, sometimes just taking medication is not enough to make a person better. That can be a process over time.

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