Community Innovations to assist mentally ill

Using administrative savings achieved from the consolidation of state-funded agencies for mental health and addiction services, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announced the first round of funding for its new Community Innovations initiative.

ODH outlined plans to invest $1.5 million in 2014 toward 12 projects serving 24 counties, which help link non-violent offenders with community-based behavioral healthcare services at a kickoff event at the University of Findlay.

The Community Innovations initiative encourages communities in Ohio to forge collaborative relationships between behavioral health and criminal justice systems so individuals with mental illness and/or alcohol and other drug addiction receive the care they need. This helps to reduce the likelihood of relapse, increase public safety and minimize harm to those who come in contact with law enforcement.

By diverting appropriate individuals from county jails and prisons to treatment and preventing recidivism, communities could see a significant reduction in spending, OhioMHAS Director Tracy Plouck said. In Ohio, the average cost of addiction treatment in the community is $1,600 (without medication-assisted treatment), and the average cost of mental health treatment including two medications is $7,500 per year; whereas, it costs $25,269 a year to incarcerate an adult in prison. On a daily basis, the cost of incarcerating an offender in prison is $69.23; a day in jail is about $75, while the cost of parole for one day is only $11.54.

A second round of funding is planned for 2015, bringing the total state investment to $3 million in two years.