The RecoveryOhio Advisory Council released its initial report Thursday, just under two months since members were named (see The Hannah Report, 1/18/19), and Gov. Mike DeWine said many of the report’s 75 recommendations will be reflected in the budget released Friday morning and represent a “blueprint” for his office and the Legislature.
“Ohio’s in the midst of a public health crisis” regarding mental health and addiction, DeWine said, citing Ohio Department of Health (ODH) statistics showing around 13 overdose deaths and five suicides each day.
Creating the RecoveryOhio initiative was his first act as governor, he noted, and it will coordinate work among departments, boards and commissioners to “act aggressively” in responding to the crisis. The 75 recommendations are “critical steps in addressing the needs of Ohioans” and will be a framework for actions over the next four years, DeWine said.
They include a public education campaign to reduce stigma that keeps Ohioans from seeking treatment, prevention coordination to ensure efforts reach Ohioans of all ages, expansion of crisis services and increased resources for children.
“You’ll see many of these recommendations reflected in our proposals,” DeWine said. “These recommendations, along with the investments we are making in our budget proposal, represent a responsible investment in Ohioans that will yield returns for generations.”
Beyond saying there would be “a lot” of focus on prevention, “significant assistance” to Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) boards and funds for short-term solutions to help those in crisis, DeWine did not offer new information on specific numbers, saying that will have to wait until Friday. He did say the overall budget would be “a very conservative budget in the sense that we’re investing.”
“I think that it’s a conservative thing to invest in our future, invest in our kids (and) invest in our infrastructure, and that’s really going to be the emphasis of the budget we unveil tomorrow,” DeWine said. His administration has already provided information on some aspects of the budget. (See separate story, this issue.)
A release from DeWine’s office said the recommendations included:
– Establishing statewide prevention coordination with all state departments and agencies to ensure best practices, consistent messaging, technical assistance and delivery of prevention services
– Commissioning a statewide campaign to address stigma
– Ensuring that each patient’s needs and treatment recommendations are determined by a qualified clinical professional and promote insurance coverage
– Reviewing and creating a comprehensive plan for safe, affordable and quality housing that meets the needs of individuals with mental health and substance use disorders
The plan was also lauded by members of the advisory council during the press conference, including Terry Russell of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio; Cheri Walter of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities; and Marcie Seidel of the Prevention Action Alliance.
Russell said that “hope is restarted” for those living with these illnesses and their families, saying that the actions recommended will “literally save lives.” He also noted the section on children stood out in the report, saying they can “once and for all” recognize the need to break the cycle of neglect. The recommendations will also save millions spent on law enforcement, who he said act as the “quasi-mental health system.”
Walter praised the plan for focusing on people, including those in recovery, rather than bureaucracy, as many strategic plans do. Mental illness and addiction affect “every sector” of society, Walter said, and so she’s been honored to represent local ADAMH boards on the council as it will fall to local leaders to bring people together and implement that plan locally where “the rubber hits the road.”
Seidel said the report “embraces the full continuum of care, and it moves through the entire spectrum of prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery and aftercare help.” Prevention is too often forgotten due to efforts to provide immediate support to those dealing with addiction, but studies have found every dollar spent on science- and evidence-based prevention practices saves $18, she said.
Teresa Lampl, an advisory council member representing the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers, also responded in a press release. Her organization praised DeWine’s “bold vision, laser focus and long overdue investments in crisis stabilization services, specialty docket courts and child welfare services to help children and families impacted by addiction and mental illness.”
DeWine said Tuesday that his budget would include $7.5 million in funding for an additional 30 specialty courts in FY20-21. (See The Hannah Report, 3/12/19.)
Lamp said the report “provides a comprehensive set of actionable strategies that address everything from insurance parity, stigma reduction, behavioral health workforce development and establishment of a full continuum of prevention, treatment and recovery services necessary to help children and families access the care they need, when they need it and where they live.”
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on March 14, 2019. Copyright 2019 Hannah News Service, Inc.