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.
The board has described crisis intervention training and the Suicide Prevention Coalition; now, it's time to talk about alcohol and other drugs.
In 2005, Seneca County's Health Alliance joined with Family and Children First Council and the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board to apply for a federal grant known as Drug Free Communities Support. Submitting data from the 2005 health assessment regarding adult and youth alcohol and marijuana use resulted in the board being awarded $125,000 each year for five years for a total of $625,000 to be used in Seneca County only.
Programs were started in 2005 to prevent or reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in Seneca County. Four goals were established: Goal No. 1 was developing a coalition of community leaders; thus, Community Action to Reduce Substance Abuse was born.
Goal No. 2 was to implement a proven effective prevention program for youth to prevent drug abuse and promote healthy, productive lives. The LifeSkills curriculum is taught by prevention specialists or school teachers in almost every school system in Seneca County. Official LifeSkills workbooks are provided by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. LifeSkills teaches students that decisions have consequences, as well as teaching refusal skills. It teaches the health risks of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; and the role that genetics plays in the body's reaction to alcohol. This program is taught in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6, depending upon which school system.
Goal No. 3 was to hold town hall meetings in each of the towns in Seneca County. Meetings were conducted in Tiffin and Fostoria prior to the grant expiring. Town hall meetings have been changed to the "Let's Talk" series held by CARSA at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center building.
Goal No. 4 - conducting health assessments every four years - has been continued. Most survey questions for the health assessments are developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comparisons can be made from the 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 assessments to indicate if change has been made.
Seneca County levy funds began supporting LifeSkills, CARSA and health assessments in 2009, and these local initiatives continue to be supported through 2013.
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