Everyone needs a safety net

The president of the Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association issued his winter newsletter 2013 in which several articles addressed those individuals who experience the effects of mental illness and/or addictions. These people face a multitude of challenges: homelessness, alienation of family, involvement with the criminal justice system, to name a few. The newsletter shared the motto used by NAMI Ohio: “You can’t get better without a roof over your head, food in your belly and someone who knows your name.”

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is waiting like other social service organizations to see how Ohio lands on Medicaid expansion. This is a part of the Affordable Care Act, in which individuals earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be helped with services through Medicaid enrollment. These services would include counseling, diagnostic assessments and medical attention. Other services would be paid for with funds that would be redirected if Medicaid expansion is approved in Ohio.

The board currently offers between 50 to 60 individuals who have been diagnosed as severely mentally disabled with housing opportunities. Their mental illness is severe enough that it impacts their daily living skills, and they may require 24/7 supervision for a period of time. Providing this service is better than an individual languishing in an inpatient unit at a hospital at close to $500 per day. An adult care facility provides housing, food and staff who monitor medications and behaviors. The staff at the adult care facility will work with each individual to teach them the skills they need to become self sufficient and move into their own place.

Housing is a safety net that can make the difference between an individual moving forward in their recovery or becoming more severely disabled with their mental illness. Case management, a service that connects a person to local services, is part of this safety net. Vocational rehabilitation is another safety-net service in which barriers to employment are removed in order for the person to find meaningful job opportunities. We know that treatment works, people recover, recovering people work and working people pay taxes.

Adult care facilities, whether it’s a facility that offers a home to four, eight, 12 or 16 individuals, offers hope to individuals who may have been successful in their careers until a mental illness affected their life. This is truly a safety net for the person who is on a tightrope in life and needs a soft landing where they have the chance to bounce back.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s funded hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director