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Green Dots
July 2010

Tracy Plouck

State Medicaid Director and Volunteer  

Tracy Plouck

Tracy Plouck may have one of the hardest jobs in state government, that of Medicaid Director for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services during a time when Medicaid is increasingly eating into a state budget that is already facing a multi-billion dollar deficit.  Then again, Tracy seems to have found a balance in her life that many of us only dream about.   Tracy also volunteers on the HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties, an information, referral and crisis line serving those with mental health and substance abuse disorders. 

“Volunteering on the HelpLine provides me an unexpected bonus of better understanding the impact that policy decisions have on the people we serve.   I get to hear first-hand how people are dealing with challenges in their lives.  The Helpline is designed to assist callers in connecting the dots, but it helps me connect the dots, too.  This experience has been invaluable.” 


“Medication and counseling can change someone’s life.  I have seen firsthand employees and friends get well after struggling with a mental health disorder and marvel that they were hesitant to seek treatment.   Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are so common in our society.  It is frustrating that there continues to be so much stigma surrounding these conditions.”

Reflecting on her work at the HelpLine, Tracy shared, “Volunteering serves as a reality check for me both personally and professionally.  I had a call from a young woman with a mental health disorder who was living in the state forest and had no support network.  It is disturbing to know that there are people out there who may not have families to support them, or the resources to get to services that are available to them.  It really reinforces the need for continuity of services across agencies.  We have to find better ways to serve the whole person and to make sure that services that are available are within reach of those who need them.  This is a big problem.” 

It is frustrating that there continues to be so much stigma surrounding these conditions.

Volunteering for the HelpLine has also helped Tracy in her relationships with others, “I can more easily see issues for what they are and understand that they are not about me, they’re not personal.  Once I learned to do this, I became much better at listening and helping to address the issue without becoming defensive.” 

Tracy’s parting advice was to look at volunteerism as benefiting not only the organization and its clients, but the individual who does the volunteering.   “Volunteering has been very rewarding to me personally and professionally and has given me a more balanced perspective on life.  I think that everyone has skills that can be put to use in a volunteer capacity.  More than ever, we need to look at solutions that don’t involve more state dollars, and I believe that volunteerism is one of those solutions.”

NAMI Ohio Applauds the Center for Community Solutions for Telling it Like it Is

Dear Readers,

Last week, the public policy think tank, Center for Community Solutions, issued a white paper entitled “Ohio’s Community Mental Health System at a Crossroads.”  The paper does an excellent job of outlining the problems plaguing Ohio’s mental health system and offers several thought provoking solutions to some of those problems.   The only drawback to the report is that you have to read through nine pages to find the most important observation of all, which is: “Around the country, care for people with severe mental illness is reverting to something that resembles the system that existed when Dorothea Dix began her raids on jails and almshouses in the 1840s.” 

NAMI Ohio could not agree more.  We receive calls in our office every day from individuals with mental illness and their families who are in crisis and cannot access services.  Certainly, a large part of the problem is due to lack of adequate funding, but it is not the entire problem.  Read this report and you will get a good sense of the many structural problems inherent in Ohio’s mental health system that interfere and actually prevent those in greatest need from getting help.

The time for major restructuring of our mental health system is now.  NAMI Ohio plans to be at the forefront of this effort and we hope we can count on you to be there with us. 

To read the report, go to:


Terry Russell

Interim Executive Director


Stigma Busting Challenge: Talk to that person, friend or relative that has been hesitant to seek treatment.  Offer to set up an appointment and go with him or her.

Green Dots