McLaren Bay Region is adding a new unit to its behavioral health services.

McLaren CEO Clarence Sevillian says the new 16 bed unit meets a critical need of the area’s senior population. The new service fills a need as many senior citizens were traveling to other Michigan cities or out of state to seek treatment.

Behavior Health Services Director Bridget Cashin says an increase in the number of patients over 65 coming into the emergency department with depression or anxiety issues showed a need for this service. Recent studies show the risk of depression is four times higher in people 65 years and older. About 15% of those over 65 experience severe depression, a common side effect of medications taken by this older age group.

The staff includes a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurses, social workers, physical therapists and dieticians. The staff also meets with the patient’s caregivers and family to assist them in helping the patient during recovery.

McLaren invested just over $4 million to add the psychiatric unit.

Guests attending a Wednesday open house check out the activity room that also serves as a dining room. A typical room in the new mental health facility at McLaren Bay Region. (WSGW News photos by Bill Hewitt)