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The Epidemic within the Pandemic

The Epidemic within the Pandemic

Co-Authored by Steve Martenet, President, Anthem BCBS in Ohio and Jack Sherman, President of NAMI Ohio

As we’ve flattened the COVID-19 curve in Ohio, we’ve seen disturbing spikes in suicide, depression, substance use disorder, anxiety and other behavioral health concerns. On top of social isolation and more difficult access to our normal support systems, the tragic death of George Floyd and long-overdue public attention to social injustice issues have created a perfect storm of challenges to mental health.  It’s being called the epidemic within the pandemic, a perfect description of the situation we face.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness of Ohio, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio and its Foundation are working together to spotlight these mental health challenges and connect Ohioans to help. One focus of this partnership is NAMI’s “You Are Not Alone” campaign, a national effort to help individuals, organizations and local governments collect and share stories and messages about how inequality, COVID-19, financial insecurity and other stressors impact on our mental health. More information is available at

PsychHub, Anthem, NAMI and others have also joined forces to offer the COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub, a free resource to help people address mental health needs during COVID-19. Visit

Mental Health Awareness Month was in May, but these issues need year-long attention. The good news is that resources do exist and help is available. And, there may even be silver linings among these storm clouds.

Depression and Anxiety

Nearly half of Americans have reported that the coronavirus crisis has been harmful to their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Certainly, social injustice and inequity are ongoing sources of anxiety for too many Americans. The good news is that rapidly expanded telehealth services have helped meet the needs of individuals seeking help and most Ohio mental healthcare providers are now offering this service.

But an awareness gap remains and people need help getting connected to resources. The Ohio Department of Health has posted information about coping with anxiety and depression on their website at Ohioans can also connect to trained crisis counselors 24 hours a day at the Ohio Crisis Text Line by texting keyword 4HOPE to 741741. They can also contact the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Help Line at (877) 275-6364.

Substance Use Disorder

Ohio’s opioid crisis was burning long before recent events threw fuel on the fire. The issue and all forms of substance use disorder have been a top priority for Gov. DeWine, mental health providers, insurers and all Ohioans for years. After years of hard work recognizing SUD as a disease and not a personal weakness, expanding treatment options, curbing prescription drug abuse, and raising awareness, we’d just begun to turn the tide when the past few months presented entirely new barriers for people struggling with substance use disorder.

The Ohio Citizen Advocates for Addiction Recovery organization continues to offer recovery resources, including virtual support meetings for all Ohioans during the pandemic. More information about their services can be found at


For 20 years, suicide rates have been rising in the U.S., reaching a post-World War II peak just before the pandemic hit. While COVID-19’s full impact on suicide rates remains unknown, we do know that the stressors people are currently experiencing drive suicide numbers up, as housing insecurity, social injustice and unemployment have historically driven higher rates.

For those seeking immediate support, NAMI Ohio offers a county-by-county list of crisis hotlines in Ohio available on their website at

The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation hosts a network of suicide prevention coalitions across Ohio and they are available to assist anyone in finding resources to ensure their safety.

Silver Linings

There’s no doubt that 2020’s challenges will drive needed change for the future of mental healthcare in Ohio. Perhaps most promising is the fact that mental health is finally taking its place alongside physical health as an equal and intertwined component of our well-being. Use of new technology like telehealth is vastly improving access to behavioral healthcare and overcoming social, economic and transportation barriers. Employers of all sizes are devoting new levels of resources to addressing mental health among their workforce. These hard-earned lessons will not be forgotten and will serve us well long after COVID-19 ebbs and as we continue our journey toward equality.

In the meantime, keep checking on your friends, coworkers and neighbors, and help us spread the word that mental health resources are available in Ohio.  It’s never been more important.

The Epidemic within the Pandemic

YouthMOVE Ohio Zoom Peer Groups

YouthMOVE Ohio will be hosting weekly Zoom Peer Groups every Sunday and Thursday evening through August

Meeting Schedule:

Sundays’s at 7:30pm EST starting June 21st through August 30th

Join Sunday Zoom Meeting through Website or App:

Call in by Phone:  1 (312) 626 – 6799  Meeting ID: 810 0227 0529


Thursday’s at 7:30pm EST starting June 25th through August 27th

Join Thursday Zoom Meeting through Website or App:

Call in by Phone: 1 (312) 626 – 6799 Meeting ID: 839 8897 0995

The Epidemic within the Pandemic

Weekly Parent Zoom Meetings

NAMI Ohio PAC will be hosting a weekly Parent Zoom meeting every Wednesday form 12:00 pm-12:45 pm. This will be an opportunity to hear the presenter, have a Q & A with the speaker(s), and connect with other parents.

The link for the week’s meeting will be posted on the NAMI Ohio PAC Facebook page each Monday.

If you would like the link emailed to you, please email

We look forward to connecting this summer.

2020 Dates Discussion Topic Presenter(s)
6/24 IEP (Parts Of The IEP) Dana Berryman/Karen Reed
7/1 Childhood Development Jody Demo-Hodgins
7/8 Substance Use/Abuse Jody Galloway
7/15 DD-SSA Dana Berryman
7/22 Crafting Tamisha McKenzie
7/29 Trauma TBA
8/5 PBIS Nicole Gerty/Dana Berryman
8/12 Self-Care Dana Berryman
8/19 Re-Establishing Crisis Plans Tamisha McKenzie
8/26 Guardianship Dana Berryman
9/2 Ask The Therapist Jamie Hodgins

*This is a parent peer lead discussion. This is not a therapy session or a support group. If you are having issues that require professional help you should speak with your doctor or therapist.

**These topics are subject to change

The Epidemic within the Pandemic

NAMI Lake County, OH has an immediate opening for a School Outreach Coordinator

NAMI Lake County, located in Painesville, is seeking applications for a School Outreach Coordinator. See job description and application requirements below. School Outreach Coordinator Position specifics:

  • Part-time, non-exempt, hourly position with flexible schedule averaging 25 hours per week
  • Some evening and weekends are required
  • Must have valid driver’s license


  • Associates degree with a minimum of 2 years’ experience in social services, education or mental health
  • High degree of competency using web-based databases and Microsoft Office
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with individuals of all ages, to express ideas clearly and concisely in written and oral form
  • Demonstrated skills in providing trainings, public speaking and presentations
  • Ability to work independently, prioritize tasks and maintain several projects concurrently
  • Well-organized, detail-oriented and strong problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to travel in-state and out-of-state for trainings and conferences
  • Empathy for those who have mental health conditions as well as for their family members and loved ones
  • Passion for mental health advocacy and education specific to youth.
  • Experience with event coordination or program management

  You’re a good candidate for this position if…

  • You understand and share NAMI’s commitments and values.
  • You enjoy coming up with new ideas, and you have the commitment and follow-through to make these plans come to life.
  • You enjoy working with diverse populations.
  • You are extremely organized and keep track of projects so that no detail gets forgotten and no deadline is missed.
  • You believe strongly that mental health and physical health are equally important factors in wellness.
  • You work well in a small office setting and communicate to coworkers and supervisors in a timely, proficient matter.

To apply: Email cover letter and resume with salary requirements and three professional references to:  Or mail to: NAMI Lake County, One Victoria Place, Suite 315, Painesville, Ohio 44077, Attn: Katie Jenkins. Cover letter should briefly describe your interest in the position and why your experience is a good match. Final applicant is required to complete drug screening and BCI background check.  Job description available upon request. No phone calls please.

The Epidemic within the Pandemic

The passing of YouthMOVE State Youth Council Alumni and NAMI advocate Jerrone McAdoo

It is with great sadness that NAMI and YouthMOVE Ohio announces the passing of YouthMOVE State Youth Council Alumni and NAMI advocate Jerrone McAdoo on June 4, 2020.

Jerrone lost his battle with sickle cell anemia at just 27-years-old.

Jerrone was born in Pontiac, Michigan, and was placed in the foster care system in Akron at 4-years-old.  His journey was not easy as he bounced from relative to relative and foster home to foster home throughout his childhood and often experienced homelessness and abuse.

Despite an insurmountable amount of adversity and challenges, Jerrone never lost his faith or compassion for others.  He joined the COHHIO Youth Empowerment Program at age 14 and developed a strong passion and voice for advocating for others.

Jerrone was a founding member of the NAMI Ohio YouthMOVE chapter and became a strong advocate for mental health as well as homelessness and improving the foster care systems.  While he struggled with his own challenges related to depression and PTSD, he never let anything keep him from participating in advocacy.  He was a featured speaker at the YouthMOVE Resiliency Ring and many state and regional conferences.

Jerrone was a fierce supporter of the work of NAMI Ohio and was particularly interested in helping break stereotypes and stigma regarding mental health in the African-American community.  He often shared his personal story to help inspire resiliency and was a peer supporter and mentor to many new advocates.

At the age of 17, Jerrone was placed with in the home of Doris Pickett who welcomed him into her home and eventually legally adopted him giving him the love and stability of a Mother that he always wanted.

Jerrone was the father to a 5-year-old son and recently married his best friend and co-advocate, Chantelle Smith, who is also a former foster child.

The entire NAMI Ohio and YouthMOVE Ohio community is thankful for Jerrone’s years of service and commitment to his advocacy. Our thoughts are with his family and all that have been reached by his mission. He will be greatly missed.

“Despite all his challenges and a multitude of barriers, Jerrone never complained. He was always grateful and put God first.  He was a dad, husband, advocate, and inspiration to all who knew him. While all current and former YEP and YouthMOVE members and alumni are morning the passing of Jerrone, we cannot forget that he taught us all to be strong, grateful and most of all RESILIENT. As we grieve for now, we will persevere and carry on his legacy knowing that we and the world are better because of him! Our hears are broken but we know he is finally at peace and without pain.  We are comforted knowing he has taken his well-earned spot among the Angels watching over us.”  Angela Lariviere, Director, YouthMOVE Ohio YouthMOVE has created a GoFundMe to help support Jerrone’s wife and son with the funeral costs.  Any additional funds raised will go to create a Youth Leadership Award in his name. Please consider donating if you are able to do so. Thank you. –