Mike DeWine highlights mental health initiatives in Cincinnati

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was in Greater Cincinnati on Wednesday to talk about mental health funding in the state budget. He has funded a federal mental health crisis line, and stressed that Ohio’s mental health care system needs to focus more on prevention and recovery initiatives.

Devine said the current system doesn’t do enough to help people prevent mental health problems or get help before mental illness becomes a crisis. He said his proposed budget — now in the hands of state lawmakers — includes millions in mental health funding for schools and local initiatives.

Related: Govt. DeWine’s State of the State address focuses on children, mental health

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“When you’re dealing with a mental health problem, it should be treated like any other health problem,” Devine said. “But that’s not where our society was; that’s not where our culture was.”

Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said the focus should be on prevention, research and treatment — something she said DeWine’s budget takes into account.

“Mental health and addiction are physical health conditions,” she said. “They’re biological experiences that people have. They’re psychological and social experiences that a person has. But they’re health and they’re health care. So that’s really the foundation we’re building this budget on.”

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While in the region, Devine toured the nonprofit Children’s Focus, which is working to include a 988 life-saving center. While there, he spoke with local operators who called the 988 number created by the federal government last July. He recalled that some of those calls were from people simply wanting more information, while others were more urgent from people who were contemplating or in the process of killing themselves.

Related: New 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline Launched

The governor announced that $46.5 million has been included in his proposed budget for the federal 988 mental health crisis line. He says it’s important that the people who answer the calls for help are local mental health workers. Devine said more than 10,000 Ohioans have called the number since it has been active here.

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“I think it’s a very positive thing for the community to know that this number is here; it’s going to someone local and trained to help,” he said.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a hotline for people in crisis or looking to help someone else. To speak to a certified listener, dial 988.


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