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Pine Rest to add about 200 new positions to meet community mental health care demands

"Our child or adolescence turn-aways in the last few months are up 600% over pre-pandemic levels," said the vice president of Pine Rest.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services is adding about 200 new workers.

The added positions are in response to a higher-than-ever-before demand based on clinical growth. Pine Rest is seeing that demand in both in-patient care and out-patient services.

"Both the pandemic and what we describe as the epidemic following the pandemic, related to mental health," said Bob Nykamp, vice president and chief operating officer for Pine Rest, "and also less resistance, less stigma to behavioral health, that I think that we're beginning to see in our community."

The positions range from entry level all the way to senior clinical level. Nykamp said they are seeing more prevalence of depression, anxiety and addiction issues exacerbated by the pandemic. 

"Our board has been clear that we need to respond to the incredible demand in our community," said Nykamp, "and so, we're going to go big or go home."

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children's Hospital Association have declared child and adolescent mental health a national emergency. 

An increase in children seeking mental health services is also something Nykamp said Pine Rest is facing. 

"Our child or adolescence turn-aways in the last few months are up 600% over pre-pandemic levels," said Nykamp. 

He said children can wait up to three or four months currently to see a child psychiatrist when they have been diagnosed. Adding these 200 positions will hopefully reduce that to about a week turnaround. 

"It is a crisis, it is emergency," said Nykamp. "And that is part of the reason that we're hiring these 200 staff is to focus on really kids getting clogged in the system that need more immediate care."

The hiring of the 200 employees has no end date currently. 

Nykamp acknowledges the challenges with hiring employees in the current economic climate. However, he said that challenge is worth it to meet the community need. 

To apply, Pine Rest is hosting open interviews every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also an application on pinerest.org. 

RELATED VIDEO: Michigan leaders investing more than $25 million into mental health initiatives

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