Mental Health

NAMI director urges ‘yes’ vote on ADAMHS levy

I am writing today to encourage you to vote yes on the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board 1 mill Replacement Levy on Tuesday, November 6th if you haven’t done so already. This is not a new tax, it would bring the old tax up to current value. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Wood County receives a majority of its funding from the ADAMHS Board to provide support, education, and advocacy for individuals affected by mental illness. One in five people are living with the signs and symptoms of a mental illness. Of these one in five, there are many more family members, friends, and colleagues affected by their loved ones condition. NAMI is able to provide support and education for all of the above mentioned. NAMI Wood County provides twice yearly free classes for family members and individuals living with mental health conditions through the support from ADAMHS. These classes and ongoing support groups are invaluable to those that utilize them. Many times, people attend a program and announce that they’ve not shared their story elsewhere. NAMI can provide that safe space for people to share, be heard, and feel supported by peers. Among the many peer programs that NAMI provides, there are a great deal of community education programs offered due to Levy support.  Mental Health First Aid teaches individuals how to provide assistance and access help for a person in a mental health crisis. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainings are coordinated by NAMI as well. This community program offered twice yearly provides law enforcement officers information in working with individuals in a mental health crisis. CIT companion courses hosted by NAMI include: Fire and Rescue Workers, Dispatchers, Behavioral Health Clinicians, Advanced Trainings, and Resiliency Trainings. The evidence based prevention and recovery programs that NAMI Wood County provides are national programs with statistics that have shown reductions in recidivism rates in both jails and hospitals. By supporting the ADAMHS Board Levy, you are making a difference in the lives of people affected by mental illness and the Wood County community. Jessica Schmitt Executive Director NAMI Wood County

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Weighty issues – county citizens getting fatter & sadder

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents have gotten fatter and sadder in the last three years. The latest Community Health Assessment results for Wood County adults show growing numbers of people carrying around extra weight physically and mentally. Nearly 40 percent of local adults classify themselves as obese, while another 33 percent say they are overweight. A total of 14 percent of adults reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more consecutive weeks. The surveys are conducted every three years by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio. “We can be confident that this is pretty accurate,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said earlier this week. A total of 1,200 adult surveys were mailed out to randomly selected residences. In order to be statistically accurate, 383 responses were needed. A total of 431 adults responded. The youth surveys fared even better, since they were conducted at schools. The health survey process began in 2008 – which allows the health department make comparisons to past health data. “How are we trending? Are we getting better in this trending?” Batey asked. The answer is yes and no. Overall, the youth data is positive. “I was very happy to see the trends with our youth,” Batey said. “We’re either holding the line or improving.” Obesity and overweight numbers among youth are gradually improving. Physical activity among youth is increasing. “Those are good things to see,” he said. Cigarette smoking among youth is at a record low. Overall substance abuse is down in kids. The numbers of youth trying alcohol and engaging in binge drinking are also down. Adolescent sexual activity is down. And bullying has dropped a bit. The one area seeing a troubling increase is in mental health. More youth responded that they have considered suicide, and experience regular sadness or hopelessness. “Mental health still seems to be declining,” Batey said. “It’s a trend that’s going in the wrong direction.” In the survey responses of parents with children ages birth to 5, a positive trend was seen in a majority of families reading to children every day in the past week. The biggest negative was a drop in mothers attempting breastfeeding. “That jumped off the page for me,” Batey said. “I think that’s huge.” But overall, Batey was happy about changes seen in younger respondents. “I’m very optimistic about the trends we’re seeing in our children and youth,” he said. Adults, on the other hand, slipped in some key areas especially weight and mental health. A total of 39 percent of adults ranked themselves as obese, compared to 22 percent three years ago. That compares to 32 percent of Ohioans and 30 percent overall in the U.S. that consider themselves as obese. Combined, 72 percent of local adults described themselves as either overweight or obese. “That’s a pretty big swing for us from where we were,” Batey said. “That’s a pretty significant number that’s concerning to me.” Wood County adults also showed a decline in mental health. When asked for the average number of days of poor mental health in the past month, local adults said 4.8 compared to 1.9 in 2015. When asked about having two or more weeks in a row of feeling sad or hopeless, 14 percent of adults said they had experienced…


Voters to decide 2 county levies in fall – though 1 is still in limbo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County voters will decide the fate of two county-wide levies this fall. The county commissioners heard from both groups last week. One levy is a reduced renewal levy – dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills for Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The other is still a mystery. A request had been made for an increase from a 1-mill to a 1.3-mill levy for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. The commissioners seem to be on board with the Wood Lane request. But they have expressed reservations about the increased levy request from ADAMHS. During the presentation by Wood Lane officials, Superintendent Brent Baer talked about the “dynamic growth in services” that the board is seeing. And Martha Woelke, of the board, said great deliberation went into the levy request. “We did everything we can to maximize state and federal money,” she told the commissioners. The board has been able to reduce its levy collections some years, but feels that 2.45 mills is the lowest it can go for the renewal. When people with developmental disabilities waive their right to institutional care, they are picked up by community based services – like Wood Lane. That agency then identifies their needs and develops plans to meet them, Baer said. The waivers allow for federal funding, but the community agency must still pick up 40 percent of the costs, said finance officer Steve Foster. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual,” Baer said. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. About five years ago, there were 226 consumers on waivers. Now there are 425. Baer expects that number to double again in the next five years. The board may need to be back in five years, asking for a greater levy, but this should do for now, Baer said. It’s not often that a county board approaches the county commissioners about lowering a levy request. “I’ve never had to do one with a reduction,” said Sandy Long, the clerk of the board of commissioners. The commissioners like the idea of asking taxpayers for less for Wood Lane. But they aren’t completely sold on asking taxpayers for more for the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board. The Wood County Commissioners – who have to certify the need for levies before they are placed on the ballot – have asked the ADAMHS board to consider other options for the November ballot issue. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The levy replacement plus addition of 0.3 mills would bring in an additional $1.3 million. According to a letter last month from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar to ADAMHS Executive Director Tom Clemons, the commissioners aren’t rejecting the request for the 1.3-mill levy. However, they would like the ADAMHS Board to consider other options. Those options, according to the letter, plus the original request are: 1.3-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $45.50 a year. 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. Replacement…


Wood County sees spike in ‘silent epidemic’ of suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s “silent epidemic” is no longer so hushed. The suicide deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have cast some light on the incidences of people taking their own lives, said Tom Clemons, executive director of Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. Suicides are responsible for more deaths each year in Wood County than opiate overdoses. “We’ve had quite a few of them in the county,” Clemons said Tuesday during a meeting with the Wood County Commissioners. The county used to average six to seven suicide deaths a year. “That’s too many,” Clemons said. And then they spiked. In 2015 there were 17; in 2016 there were 20; in 2017 there was a drop to 11; and this year the county is on pace to hit 25. “It’s a very disturbing trend,” he said. And the numbers could actually be higher, since suicide by overdose is sometimes recorded as accidental. Wood County has a high rate of suicide among first responders, and a higher than average rate for adult males between 35 and 55 – which accounts for 77 percent of the cases in the county. The rate of suicide among local youth is low, Clemons said. “We believe that’s due to a whole number of factors,” he said. After a spike in teen suicides about a decade ago, several programs were implemented to change that trend. Prevention programs include the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program and bullying initiatives. “They build resiliency in kids,” Clemons said. “These things have been shown to be very effective.” In response to the increase in adult suicides, the ADAMHS board recently decided to fund a mobile crisis response that will take the place of The Link crisis center. The new unit is expected to be in operation by July 1. The mobile unit will respond to crises wherever the person is – at home, work, a store, or a park, Clemons said. It will have unlimited capacity for calls, so no one calling in for help will be put on hold, he added. “Everybody who answers the phone is thoroughly trained in crisis response,” he said of the new hotline. The ADAMHS board also funded training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, designed for people who are suicidal, self-harming or aggressive to others. The therapy has been proven very successful, Clemons said, and focuses on self-calming skills, mindfulness and meditation techniques. When the training is complete, Wood County should have 30 to 40 therapists available with expertise in the DBT techniques. For families or friends concerned about how to spot suicidal behavior, the National Alliance on Mental Health in Wood County offers “first aid” training on the warning signs of suicide and suggestions of how to intervene, Clemons said.


Closing The Link may make sense – but it will be missed by those it served

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Link saved Melissa Kaiser’s life. So when she learned the crisis intervention center was being closed, she was furious. Last year, Kaiser was contemplating suicide when she called The Link. She was terrified of being hospitalized, but was convinced to go by the caseworker on the other end of the line. “They got me to a hospital and they saved my life,” Kaiser said. This wasn’t the first time she had turned to The Link for help. As someone dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar issues – at the same time as juggling work, college and clinical  rotations – Kaiser has sought help there before. “They are able to understand me. They taught me coping mechanisms,” she said. “They talk to me. They calm me down.” The Link has been offering help 24/7 for about 40 years in Bowling Green. It started out as a crisis hotline staffed by volunteers. So when Kaiser heard that the brick and mortar site was being closed and the services were going mobile, she was livid. “I’ve called The Link several times. They’re not just crisis prevention, they are caseworkers. They listen and then they hook you up with services,” she said of the staff who are friendly, familiar faces. “It was really upsetting to me. Those people saved my life.” But those making the decision to switch over to a mobile crisis unit said the reason is for people like Kaiser. Stationary offices are an antiquated and more expensive way to provide crisis response, according to Tom Clemons, director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, and Chris Streidl, manager of clinical programs and quality improvement for ADAMHS. “That service doesn’t go away,” but it will respond to wherever the caller is – rather than making them come to an office here in Bowling Green, Clemons said. “We’re trying to bring our services to our clients,” Streidl said. The mobile unit is seen as the most effective way to deal with the “silent epidemic in Wood County,” Clemons said. Current suicide rates in the county are higher than the national rate, and are more than the number of people being killed by opiate overdoses. “This is not only a fiscal decision,” Clemons said. “We have to do something differently.” The number of suicides reported in 2015 in the county was 17, followed by 20 in 2016. That number dipped in 2017 to 11, but is on track to hit 24 this year. “These are the known suicides. There are always more,” Clemons said. “It’s a huge issue. I don’t think people realize that,” Streidl said. The mobile unit is believed to be more effective, Clemons said. “Mobile crisis response is the best practice – go where a person is.” Very few people actually walk in to The Link for services, Streidl said. In the last fiscal year, about 800 came into the office, with most then being treated elsewhere. In the past year, the phone line logged about 13,000 calls, for all types of needs including information referrals. Like The Link, the mobile unit will be available 24/7, but it would respond to wherever the caller is – home, work, a park, the library. Staff at the mobile unit will…


County worried about taxpayer fatigue impact on levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concern about taxpayer fatigue has led to a request that the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board reconsider its proposed levy. The Wood County Commissioners have asked the board to consider other options for its November ballot issue. “We just want to make sure that what they put on the ballot, people will be in favor of,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said on Wednesday. “Our concern is – what if it doesn’t pass?” The ADAMHS board had asked that a 1.3-mill replacement levy be place on the ballot. In order for the issue to appear before the voters, the county commissioners have to certify the need for the levy millage. Last month, Tom Clemons, the executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, made his pitch to the county commissioners for the agency’s levy request. At that point, Herringshaw said that the commissioners had to discuss the levy request. “We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board,” Herringshaw said. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The levy replacement plus addition of 0.3 mills would bring in an additional $1.3 million. According to a letter from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar to Clemons, the commissioners aren’t rejecting the request for the 1.3-mill levy. However, they would like the ADAMHS Board to consider other options. Those options, according to the letter, plus the original request are: 1.3-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $45.50 a year. 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. Replacement levy at an amount between 1 mill and 1.3 mills for 10 years. Two separate levies, with one being a 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, plus a new levy of 0.3 mills for five years. That lower levy would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $10.50 annually. If the opiate crisis is still creating a big demand for services after five years, the ADAMHS Board can put that small levy back on the ballot, the letter stated. Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. At the same time as seeing rising costs for services, ADAMHS is also seeing a drop in help from the state and federal government. A decade ago, state and federal money made up 60 percent of the ADAMHS budget. Now the local levy dollars have to bear the burden of 75 percent of the budget. “We have made prudent reductions in our budgets,” he said. “We are conscientious about using taxpayer dollars.” The commissioners and Clemons will meet later this month to discuss the levy options.


More levy funds sought for opiate, mental health services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tom Clemons would love to not have to ask Wood County voters for more money. But then he would also love if the opiate crisis weren’t killing people, and if the state and federal government would not have cut funding. So on Tuesday, Clemons, the executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, made his pitch to the county commissioners for the agency’s levy request. The board will be seeking a replacement 1-mill levy plus and an additional 0.3-mill levy. The levies will be on the November ballot. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said that the commissioners will have to discuss the levy requests before deciding whether or not they will get their blessing as the levies go on the ballot. “We listened to what he had to say,” she said of Clemons’ presentation. “We’re still at the point where we’re absorbing what he had to say. We’ll be discussing it. We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The new levies will bring in an additional $1.3 million. Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs. “First and foremost, we think the opiate epidemic is costing us a little over $700,000 a year,” Clemons said last week. The costs include inpatient and outpatient detox services, recovery housing, clinical services for the Vivitrol program in jail, services for addicted women who are pregnant, help with the Addiction Response Collaboration, short-term residential treatment, help providing medication like Naloxone, outpatient programs, and school-based prevention programs. “It’s touching everyone,” Julie Launstein, ADAMHS finance director, said of the opiate crisis. But it appears that Wood County’s opiate programs are working according to Chris Streidl, manager of clinical programs with ADAMHS, who explained that this county has a significantly lower death rate than those being seen in Lucas and Hancock counties. “We see the numbers,” Clemons said. “This epidemic is not going to go away any time in the near future.” At the same time as the opiate crisis, the ADAMHS board still needs to deal with other mental health, alcohol and drug addiction issues. “We’re going to have to look at doing some more mental health housing,” Clemons said. That will include more 24/7 supervised housing and more independent housing. The agency also sees the need to improve crisis intervention services. “We have had more deaths due to suicide in the last three years than due to overdoses,” Clemons said. In 2016, there were 20 suicides recorded. And the numbers aren’t looking better this year. “We’re on pace for breaking a record.” Turning around those numbers will take programming, he said. “In order to address suicide, you have to have crisis intervention services 24/7, and excellent therapy,” Clemons said. ADAMHS is looking at a different solution than the brick and mortar Link facility in Bowling Green. “There are very few people who walk into it,” to get help, Clemons said. So ADAMHS is interested in offering a mobile crisis response. “So we can treat the crisis where it’s occurring,” whether that’s at home, in a park, or in a store, he said. If Wood County were to have…