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Mental health targeted in Gov. Mike DeWine's budget proposal

DeWine has been focused on mental health issues for some time and last year launched the 'Beat the Stigma' campaign, which WKYC was involved with.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine began his first term during the opioid epidemic. He's aware of how addiction, and mental health fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic impacts Ohioans.  

As his second term gets underway, DeWine wants the Ohio General Assembly to do more. He outlined his vision during Tuesday's "State of the State" address in Columbus.

The governor's budget proposal centers on four points.

  1. Building a community care system that increases prevention efforts;
  2. Offering better crisis response services and treatment options;
  3. Growing our behavioral health workforce; and
  4. Focusing on much-needed research and innovation.

He wants to see access to care expanded to all residents.

“Treatment and counseling services delivered either in person or through telehealth visits to people directly in their homes and workplaces. Suicide prevention to end the needless loss of our brothers and sisters. Support for our youngest Ohioans, so they can have a great start to life and get help at the earliest sign of a behavioral health need,” DeWine said.

He also wants to see the new mental health hotline, 988, expanded to help keep Ohioans from ending up in the emergency room.

“And, increased access to state hospitals and private psychiatric hospitals to ease stress on families, emergency departments, courts, and jails,” DeWine said.

There is a mental health professional shortage, especially among pediatric patients. The governor wants the state to invest in expanding the pediatric behavioral health system and address the work force shortage.

DeWIne also is asking for a wide reaching research study because mental health issues are different and often relate to where someone may live.

He wants the General Assembly to create the “State of Ohio Action for Resiliency Network” or the SOAR Network.

“This effort will harness the talent of our citizens to deploy a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, multi-year research study that includes Ohioans from all regions of our state. This, and other research opportunities, will help us launch new discoveries about the brain and about resilience. It will help us understand the unique nature of mental health issues across Ohio’s urban, suburban, rural, and Appalachian communities to better determine which interventions work best in our many diverse communities,” DeWine explained.

The SOAR network would include an interdisciplinary research team of counselors, social workers, sociologists, nurses, psychologists, and medical doctors from across the state of Ohio.

“It will help us support our most vulnerable citizens, by figuring out how to most effectively reduce the risk of suicide, addiction, and overdose and by investing in additional evidence-based initiatives that we know work,” DeWine added.

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