This year had so many highlights it’s very difficult to focus on only a few. First and foremost I want to thank the community for not only embracing recovery but by putting their beliefs into action by passing the Mahoning County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MCMHRB) levy by 75%! The Services provided by those levy dollars help the entire community because, as we all know, ”Treatment Works, People Recover, Recovering People Work, Working People Pay Taxes”. If I had to select one word to exemplify this year it would be collaboration. By reaching out to our community partners we have been able to address several needs within our community. One of the most successful collaborations include the establishment of the IROCS program. With the support of a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services we were able to expand existing programs and establish new initiatives such as peer support and re-entry projects in the jail. The strong leadership of Sheriff Greene and his willingness to allow other systems into the jail has helped Mahoning County to be a leader in Ohio in the “Stepping up Initiative”, which looks to reduce the number of people with mental illness being inappropriately placed in jail. The MCMHRB also joined Mercy Health to address two important gaps in our community. Two behavioral health safe rooms were established in the Austintown and Boardman emergency rooms to help address the special needs of those experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Additionally we partnered with Mercy Health to establish a Critical Incident Stress Management team to address the needs of first responders in our community. We have also taken several steps to address the opioid epidemic that has gripped our County. We partnered with the Mahoning County District Board of Health to promote Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) by providing funding and access to this life saving medication for first responders. The MCMHRB also made funding available to increase detox and recovery housing beds within Mahoning County to increase accessibility to those in need. It has been 18 months since our mental health and addiction system merged and I am so proud of the teamwork that has developed between our staff, providers, and the community, as we have come together to address the needs of those dealing with mental health and addiction issues. Together we can continue to offer “Help for Today…Hope for Tomorrow”.
Duane J. Piccirilli, LPCC