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MHRBEO In the News

Local addiction treatment providers say it's easy to get help 

Sandusky Register

October 9th, 2018 

SANDUSKY — In the wake of new statistics showing more drug overdose deaths than ever in Ohio, treatment providers in Erie County are reminding everyone that getting help can begin with a single telephone call or text.

All it takes is a phone call to 1-800-826-1306 or sending the text message “4Hope” to 741741. Either option will provide referrals to a variety of local resources.

Services that can be accessed include:

• Emergency assessments for opiates (pain pills), illegal drugs, and alcohol users.

• Medication Assisted Treatment to assist with addiction, such as Vivitrol and Suboxone.

• 24/7 medically managed detoxification. A local detox center is available at the Erie County Health Department in Sandusky.

• Use of a bridge device on the ear to ease the pain of withdrawal

• Support services for individuals and groups

• Addiction counseling

• Recovery connection services

• Narcan distribution

• Intensive Outpatient Program (gender specific groups)

• Peer support to help access services. Sandusky Artisans is an example of a local peer support center

• Help for people in jail

The Ohio Department of Health announced on Sept. 27 Ohio had 4,854 drug overdose deaths in 2017, up from 4,050 in 2016.

The message that help can be easily reached isn’t just meant for people struggling with addiction problems.

“We want friends and family members to know that there are services available,” said Brenda Cronin, executive director of the Mental Health Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties. “Sometimes it takes friends and family support to continue to encourage people to access services.”

The “Message to the Community” about getting treatment is a joint effort from a group of local partners in the addiction recovery movement: Mental Health Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties, Erie County Health Department/Erie County Community Health Center, Ottawa County Health Department, Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services, Bayshore Counseling Services and LCADA Way.

“We came together to talk about getting this message out to the community,” Cronin said.


 Mental health board implementing new strategic plan

 Port Clinton News Herald

October 8th, 2018 

PORT CLINTON - When Brenda Cronin was hired as executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties in July 2017, she brought a fresh perspective that has inspired changes that will be felt across the county.

The board opened its first Ottawa County office this summer in Port Clinton’s Sutton Center, and it released a detailed strategic plan in August that has the potential to positively affect thousands of local residents.

“In the past year, many things have been identified as needing some attention. The board has worked very, very hard on completing a strategic plan so we can address a number of priorities,” Cronin said.

The board is legally empowered to plan, develop, fund, manage and evaluate services for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues, but it cannot provide direct services. Instead, it partners with, supports, and funds over 200 services and programs in Ottawa and Erie counties.  

In the months dedicated to developing the board’s strategic plan, board members spoke with dozens of local dignitaries, medical personnel, recovery advocates and others in one-hour interviews seeking input on local mental health and addiction recovery needs. They also obtained permission to interview participants in a Bayshore Counseling Service recovery group to gain personal feedback.

“We peeled through that data and created a mission and goals,” Cronin said.

Five main priorities for Ottawa County are recovery housing for women; trauma training; reentry planning and coordination in the jails; the Drug Abuse Response Team (DART), and transportation.

“We’re working to find ways to address these,” Cronin said.

One of the biggest improvements to mental health recovery services in Ottawa County has been the implementation of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), made possible due to changes to SB 43 in the Ohio General Assembly. The changes grant power to probate judges to order individuals with severe mental illness into outpatient treatment. In the past, the treatment could only be enforced on individuals with a criminal record.

"If an individual is not compliant with mental health treatment," Cronin said, "AOT gives you the tools to file in probate court for participation in the AOT program.”

Cronin said AOT, which has now been implemented in Ottawa County, was strongly supported by Judge Kathleen Giesler. The AOT model has been proven successful all over the country, she said.

 “Individuals with mental illness respond to the black robe effect. When they see judges in black robes, they tend to be more compliant. We don’t know why, but we’re happy about it,” Cronin said.

Cronin said the “beauty” of the law is that individuals cannot be jailed for noncompliance. Instead, mental health services are increased for individuals who refuse court-ordered compliance. That often keeps them out of the penal system, benefiting the individual and bringing relief to family and the community service workers who deal with them, such as police officers.

“We’ve talked to the sheriff’s department, and people with mental illness just consume their days. The officers want options other than jail for them. Jail is not the place for them,” Cronin said. “Often, people with severe mental illness end up in jail or a psychiatric unit. AOT can offer a lot of options before it comes to that.”

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties is looking for more board members to help meets its new strategic plan goals. For more information on the board and its services, call 419-627-1908. Individuals dealing with addiction, depression, anxiety or mental illness or their families can find support by calling 800-826-1306 or by texting 4HOPE to 741741.

Sandusky Register
September 11, 2018

Tom Jackson

Staff Reporter

SANDUSKY — A local government agency says it’s found a new tool to provide better service to mental health and substance abuse patients.

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties is using the approach, known as “Sequential Intercept Mapping,” to identify weaknesses in four programs: Mental health treatment in Erie County, opiate abuse treatment in Erie County, and treatment in the same two areas in Ottawa County.

The mapping has been completed for opiate abuse treatment in Ottawa County.

It identified five main weaknesses with drug treatment in the county: (1) Lack of recovery housing for women; (2) Care that takes the patient’s trauma into account; (3) Planning to help people in jail trying to reenter society; (4) Lack of response teams to meet with people who have suffered overdoses and urge them to seek treatment and (5) Lack of transportation make sure people can get to their appointments.

Efforts are being made to address all of those issues, said Diane Taylor, deputy director of the mental health board, and periodic reviews will be made to check Ottawa County’s progress.

A similar effort to identify Erie County’s main gaps in opiate treatment will be made when a mapping meeting is held Oct. 29-30 at the Erie County Health Department. The people invited to participate will include the county prosecutor, the public defender, the sheriff, treatment providers, the health department and other agencies dealing with addiction.

Brenda Cronin, executive director, said sequential intercept mapping has become a popular way for agencies to figure out how to improve their services.

In Erie and Ottawa counties, a session involves getting together a group of agencies which “map” a person’s journey through the local court system. At each step, an attempt is made to figure out where services are weak, Cronin said.

Once a list of weaknesses is compiled, Ruth Simera, a faculty member at Kent State University and Ohio’s expert on Sequential Intercept Mapping, helps participants narrow down the list to the top five weaknesses an agency should focus upon, Cronin said.

A strength of the mapping sessions is that it brings together a wide variety of people in the field, Cronin said.

“When everybody is in the room, working in the same direction, you get bigger buy in. You get cross systems collaboration,” Cronin said

Mental Health & Recovery Board

Erie & Ottawa Counties

1907 E. Perkins Avenue, Sandusky, OH 44870  |  Phone: 419-627-1908  |  Fax: 419-627-0769
Board Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 - 4:30
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