The number of people St. Clair County Community Mental Health
(SCCCMH) serves has grown significantly in recent years.
Debra Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of St. Clair County Community Mental Health.
“We've been increasing the number of people that we serve throughout the county every year, and we anticipate that’s going to continue,” says Debra Johnson, CEO of SCCCMH. “We actually estimate that it will increase by as many as 500 people a year throughout the county.”
While there is no doubt that the pandemic took its toll on the public’s mental health, it also helped remove some longstanding stigma surrounding mental health. People began seeking support for their mental health at unprecedented rates and as a result, organizations such as SCCCMH have had to grow to keep up with the demand for services.
“Before COVID, in 2018-2019, we had about 235 employees. We have over 450 right now. That's how rapidly we're growing,” says Johnson.
With that many new employees and the increase in demand for services, SCCCMH is outgrowing some of its facilities, including its location on Broadway Street in Marine City. To support this growth, SCCCMH is moving to a new location in Marine City at 6221 King Road. This new facility opened on May 30.
St. Clair County Community Mental Health's new facility in Marine City is located at 6221 King Rd.
“We have definitely expanded the number of staff in Marine City,” Johnson says. “I just authorized another position last week. So, we're continuing to increase the staffing to support the need down there.”
At 6,600 square feet, the new King Road facility will provide significantly more space than the Broadway Street location, which was 5,000 square feet. Johnson says SCCCMH also acquired land behind the new facility for potential growth in the future, whether that’s to expand the building, parking, or other needs.
“We are looking for more outreach within the community - to be able to provide more programming for substance use disorders, for children, and expand on our group programs that we provide for the community,” says Melissa Hunt, Program Supervisor. “This facility will allow us to increase our capacity for psychiatry and provide more clinical services all the way around.”
Melissa Hunt, Program Supervisor for St. Clair County Community Mental Health.
Hunt says progress on opening this new facility began in October 2021, a collaborative effort between the SCCCMH team and community members working together to make the move happen quickly and efficiently.
“The vision was to create a space where people we serve and staff feel safe and welcome to provide services,” Hunt says. “To create this environment, it was important to ask for feedback and suggestions from staff and community members. A lot of suggestions were used to create this amazing space and everyone is so excited to start providing services to the community here.”
She says SCCCMH in Marine City currently provides services to all age groups and offers a variety of evidence-based practices, including but not limited to treatment for Substance Use Disorder, Dialectical Behavior Therapy
, therapy, and much more.
One of the ways both Hunt and Johnson hope to meet the increasing need for mental health services is through additional group programs at this new facility. Johnson says SCCCMH currently offers a variety of group programs including ones for parents, anger management, coping skills, art therapy, socialization, and other focus areas.
“We have a lot of need for groups in the community, especially for our teenagers,” she says. “We want to be running some more coping skills groups for them - more Substance Use Disorder groups, preventative groups, and others.”
SCCCMH has a new group running this summer
, which focuses on exercise and nutrition for youth.
“We will have two children's groups: one for kids that are 8-11 and one for 12-17 to really get them active and moving,” Hunt says.
An office within St. Clair County Community Mental Health's new facility in Marine City.
While many of the groups offered by SCCCMH are for those who are currently receiving services through SCCCMH, Johnson hopes they may be able to expand the groups they offer to be open to anyone in the community – regardless of whether the person is receiving services or not.
“I would like to have some groups – especially for youth – that are drop-in groups. We do that currently with the LGBTQIA+ group. We have one of those in all parts of the county. You don't have to be receiving CMH services to go to that support group, you can just go,” Johnson says. “We want to try to do more of those so that we can be a little more proactive in helping people.”
Johnson also hopes the proximity of the new facility on King Road to Marine City High School
will help raise more awareness of services that are available.
“My biggest hope is that we are there to provide the services that people need when they need them, where they need them,” she says.
The community is welcome to view the new facility during an open house on June 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be available and the public can tour the building and receive information about SCCCMH and its services. Learn more at scccmh.org