In just over six months, Compass North Psychological Services Inc. has more than doubled its staff. Working to meet the needs of the clients they serve, the relatively new organization in Grand Rapids is focused on reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Compass North opened in March 2019 at 1200 S Pokegama Avenue Suite 160 in Grand Rapids. Therapist and Chief Executive Officer Alexander Meyer explained the organization started with just two administration workers and four therapists.
“A handful of us wanted to continue to work together and rather than branching out in different directions, everyone had this goal in mind. So I took the leap to make it a reality.”
Today, the staff has grown to 15 people including four in administration, three in adult rehabilitation mental health services (ARHMS) support, two case managers and six therapists. Meyer remarked that everyone who works at Compass North has a shared vision of what mental health should be.
“Everybody really has a similar perception of what mental health should be and none of us want it to feel sterile…. Mental health needs to be talked about more, and not shamed or people feeling guilty discussing those things. One of our big goals is just normalizing it,” Meyer said.
Services provided by Compass North include medication education, case management, ARMHS and psychotherapy. Meyer, himself, is also certified by the Board of Social Work to provide continuing education to providers. Therapy services consist of marriage counseling, family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and individual psychotherapy. Medication education helps inform clients on how medications work, side effects and interactions with other medications or substances and why a particular medication may be chosen in treating mental illness.
Additionally, there are a number of support groups that are open to the community run by Compass North. This includes a parent support group for those with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This group meets every first Tuesday of the month.
Meyer explained some of the difficulties the provider’s clients faced with health insurance as they switched over to Compass North. For the first months, Compass North provided services pro bono to ensure their clients would not be left behind. Meyer noted that the organization is now set up with all of the major health insurance agencies now.
This mindset of putting clients first is what binds together the staff of Compass North.
“We’re all very passionate about helping people. It’s not just about doing something that’s going to make money. It’s more about what is something that people aren’t getting that they need?” Meyer remarked.
These efforts extended even to the interior of the building that houses Compass North. The staff worked to make an environment in which people would feel safe in. Each staff member has their own space or office that they were able to decorate as they pleased, making each room unique and appropriate for the associated services provided there.
Meyer added, “We want people to walk in and feel like it is warm and inviting and that they are comfortable.”
The staff of Compass North also has worked to be significantly visible in the community. Meyer explained that this goes along with their efforts to normalize discussions of mental health. The staff has participated in area conventions, 5K races, Habitat for Humanity projects and more.
“Our mission is helping people, helping the community,” Meyer stated. “The place that people are living, the place that people grow up, the people that people experience on a day-to-day basis helps form who they are and we want to make sure that we are being considerate of all the factors that go into who a person becomes.”
For now, Meyer said Compass North plans to not have any major growth for the rest of the year in order to let everything settle in. However, he does have plans for future growth including adding more clients and expanding care for children.
“We’re very humbled and we very blessed to be a part of this community and the reception we’ve got,” Meyer commented. “That makes it very easy for us to stay motived and to feel encouraged to keep doing this because the community has backed us up.”