When the taxpayers of Seneca County voted in a new tax in 2008 for mental health and substance abuse services, the board's campaign promise was to share how levy funds were used from 2009 through 2013. Over the next few weeks, the board will describe the programs that have been implemented or sustained through local levy funding.
Let's begin with those programs that were consistently supported with levy funds for Seneca County, one of which is Crisis Intervention Training.
The deinstitutionalization of individuals dramatically shifted care from state hospitals to communities. Mental health and law enforcement personnel are aware of the risks when responding to an incident involving a person experiencing severe symptoms of mental illness. The primary goal is to achieve outcomes that avoid injury or death to any of the individuals involved.
The CIT model, created in Memphis in 1988 and used nationwide, is being replicated in this board's area through the coordination of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties. As more police officers, sheriff's deputies, probation and parole officers learn to recognize the symptoms of a mental illness, the fear that has been prevalent in these situations may turn to greater sensitivity and support on the part of each person involved. NAMI schedules about 15 educational sessions held over a one-week period that cover topics such as medications, symptoms of mental illnesses, ride-alongs with mental health staff by law enforcement, safety and de-escalation, and role playing of individuals.
Training of all criminal justice personnel is first priority. To date, 43 law enforcement officers have been trained from Tiffin, Fostoria, Green Springs and Republic. This board's next step is to include first responders - i.e., emergency department staff and fire department staff - in the training.
Finally, the board will offer refresher sessions for those already trained while continuing to train new officers.
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. The board's office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Nancy Cochran, executive director,
mental health board