The Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board has a 1-mil, 5-year renewal levy on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.
The board’s executive director, Steve Hedge, said that 1-mil has not changed since 1986.
“There’s no new money, but the local levy is 84 percent of our budget, and it’s vital for us to continue our services,” Hedge said. “We only get 10 percent of our budget from the state and 6 percent from the federal government.”
Hedge said the heroin epidemic is obviously front and center — there were 13 overdose deaths last year in Delaware County alone.
“We’re not as hard-hit as places like Marion and the Linden area, but it is here — opiates and black tar heroin,” Hedge said. “Right now it’s more of a problem in suburban areas like ours than the inner-city. It’s easier to get heroin than ordering pizza, so we’re putting a lot more of our resources in our youth to reduce the long-term effects of substance abuse. We’re working with schools, targeting isolated kids who are having trouble with drug abuse.”
Hedge said substance abuse has increased in suburban areas because drug dealers know it’s a safe place to do business.
“Suburban kids have money, they have cell phones, and they typically don’t have guns,” Hedge said. “Dealers are taking advantage of that.”
Hedge said the focus right now is to get addicted individuals back in wellness and recovery.
“There are services available, whether they get those services from us or not, but we want to get people in treatment,” Hedge said.
Hedge also noted that Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services is involved with suicide prevention, including a suicide prevention coalition.
“Last year there were 18 suicides and Delaware County, from a full-age range,” Hedge said. “You don’t read about suicide much in the newspaper because of the stigma attached to it. That’s complicated, because some severe mental health issues don’t appear until people are in their late 20s.”
The following providers are part of the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board network of care: Safe Harbor Peer Support Services, Annie’s Outreach Center, and No Limits Outreach Center; Southeast Healthcare Services/Center of Vocational Alternatives (COVA); HelpLine; Turning Point; Recovery & Prevention Resources of Delaware and Morrow Counties; Del-Mor Dwellings Corporation; Maryhaven; and Central Ohio Mental Health Center.
Hedge said in addition to addressing the opiate crisis and suicide prevention, Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board providers offer crisis response, drug and alcohol prevention programs, counseling services, anti-bullying and other violence prevention programs, and safe shelter in domestic violence situations.
“Mental health and substance abuse issues impact everyone – families, businesses, schools, and the community,” Hedge said. “The 1-mil renewal levy is only way we can raise money to continue serving area residents.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.