I received a call from a gentleman recently who told me he had just lost his wife of 55 years. He asked, “Is there any help for me?”
I told him about the grief and loss support group run by PVFF that meets every Monday.
A few months ago parents called about their son, who had gotten mixed up in pain pills. “We want to send him to treatment in Florida,” they told me.
I suggested they try the services we have locally that include inpatient detox, medication assisted treatment, intensive outpatient services, and other supports. Last week they told me, “If it hadn’t been for your services here, our son would have been in jail. He’s got a job, a new car, and most importantly, he has his life back.”
In the three counties served by the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board — Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties — more than 2,500 youth received help for a mental health issue or a substance abuse disorder. Almost 8,000 adults were treated as well. More and more people are realizing there is help locally, including over 50 businesses who have participated in our drug free workplace program.
As much as we focus our efforts on treatment, we are putting a big effort into prevention. The goal is to help this generation of young people avoid the pitfalls of addiction and mental illness by putting into place early intervention programs. Here are a few that are making a difference:
• Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour course that teaches anyone the signs that someone is in emotional distress and what to do about it. Over 2000 people have been trained in our area.
• PAX Good Behavior Game teaches kids self-regulation, a key component to living a healthy, drug free life. More than 500 teachers are trained in our area.
• Gatekeepers is a high school program that engages young people in promoting mental wellness and open communication. They learn how to engage a friend in trouble and get them to an adult. There are Gatekeepers groups in 19 schools in our area.
All of these efforts at treatment and prevention are available because of the Mental Health and Recovery Services levy. Most people are already paying $30 a year, and the results are phenomenal.
The opioid epidemic was and is frightening. In 2017 we lost 39 people in Allen County, six in Auglaize County, and nine in Hardin County. In 2018, look at the difference: 1 in Allen, zero in Auglaize, and zero in Hardin. Our efforts as a community are saving lives.
On November 6 you can help us continue our work together to spread hope, help, and care by voting for the renewal of local mental health and recovery
Michael Schoenhofer is the Executive Director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.