Ohio Grants $3 Million In Funding For Mental Health Support In Jails

By Victoria Kim 12/03/15

Ohio has been at the forefront of being proactive in dealing with addiction and mental health.

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Ohio took a major step in addressing mental health care this month, when the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) announced $3 million in grants to address the mental health needs of offenders in county jails.

The rates of serious mental illness in jails are three to six times higher than in the general population, and nearly three-quarters of adult jail inmates with serious mental illness also have substance abuse disorders.

“Too many Ohioans with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders are lingering in our jails—not getting the help they need,” said MHAS director Tracy Plouck, who was at the Mahoning County Minimum Security Jail in Youngstown to announce the latest funding.

The grants will be used to provide mental health and addiction treatment to inmates, and connect them with additional treatment options once they’re out. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of people returning to jail, increase public safety, and relieve jail overcrowding.

Some grant recipients will receive free training from the Stepping Up Initiative, which aims to reduce the number of mentally ill people in jails.

“What we want to do is continue progress that we’ve made in the last two years by investing in partnerships between mental health and addiction services boards locally and their partnering county jail and sheriff’s office,” Plouck told The Vindicator.

About two million people enter U.S. jails each year with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. “Of that total, many are also dealing with substance abuse issues from attempts at self-medication,” reads a press release issued by the MHAS. “Once incarcerated, persons with untreated mental illnesses and substance use disorders tend to stay longer in jail and are at higher risk of re-arrest than individuals without these illnesses.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr