Helpline: 1-800-686-2646 or text NAMI to 741741 1225 Dublin Road, Suite 210, Columbus OH 43215

Message from the Director

Dear NAMI Friends and Families,

Welcome to our new NAMI Ohio Highlights. Our aim with this e-newsletter is to share stories, updates, and information that encourages those with mental illness and their families to know “they are not alone”. I am excited to share all that is happening at NAMI Ohio and with our Affiliates across the State of Ohio. I have passed the one-year mark as Executive Director and could not be more excited and proud of the growing education, support, and advocacy happening on a daily level.

I am providing recent highlights and updates:

  • State Budget – The SFY 2024/2025 budget passed in June provides funding increases in many key areas. The relationships with key stakeholders and elected officials garnered support for our priorities. This occurred with ongoing communication and mee key legislators including 2 successful Statehouse events with partner organizations (Feb. 28) and NAMI Ohio Lobby Day (May 3rd). Key Victories:
  • The funding in the Residential State Supplement line at $24,000,000 per year will increase the quality and expansion of mental health group homes. This is an additional $8 million per year to help those with severe and persistent mental illness find a home versus the streets and homeless shelters.
  • The General Assembly maintained increases to Prevention and Wellness and Criminal Justice line items. The funding will result in more housing, prevention, and criminal justice services for individuals throughout Ohio.
  • The Governor and General Assembly acknowledged the dire workforce shortage in mental health by increasing the community behavioral health Medicaid rates by an additional 10% and allowing additional funds for direct care workers.
  • Funding for the local Continuum of Care line item will allow local communities to address the most urgent priorities in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods.  This line item represents the largest state general revenue investment in the local mental health services.
  • NAMI Ohio Key Priorities:
  1. Affiliate and Program Engagement and Expansion –
    • Erie County was reinvigorated with the leadership of Board Member Julie Hammond; NAMI NW Ohio acquired Ottawa County; Expansion plans are underway for Preble County; Expansion into Clermont County in partnership with NAMI SW Ohio (Working in Hamilton, Warren, Clinton and Clermont); Expansion into Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs Counties in partnership with a core group of volunteers and the local ADAMH Board; Medina County has a contract with Greater Cleveland to provide support and education programs; NAMI Mid-Ohio has expanded into Union County (now serving Delaware, Morrow and Union).
    • NAMI Ohio has increased engagement with our Affiliates through monthly Affiliate Calls, Monthly Email Updates to Affiliates, Affiliate Retreats (2 days), and Affiliate Participation in Advocacy Events in Columbus.
    • Expand Training Programs – fully developed FY 23 and FY 24 Training Calendar; program leader orientation established, onboarding volunteers with support from NAMI Ohio, including training to leaders and development of volunteer manual.
  2. Advocacy – NAMI Ohio continues to push efforts for a Person-Centered Mental Health approach. This focuses on key priorities with funding going toward housing, day services (Clubhouse/Peer Recovery Organizations), and care management. In FY 2024, NAMI Ohio will work to see more movement in care coordination for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness.
  3. Stigma Reduction – marketing campaign focused on the work of 33 Affiliates. NAMI Ohio worked directly with NAMI affiliates to implement locally targeted campaigns in their communities and identify local partners/supporters. The marketing/stigma reduction budget was approximately $320,000. Much of this work focused on targeted populations underserved to ensure messages and materials were delivered effectively. Developed both general and targeted content that can be used and adapted as part of a mixed-media marketing strategy. A key part of this work involved the expansion into online/streaming services. NAMI Ohio incorporated these marketing strategies as part of our organizational advocacy priorities and with the goal to work toward achieving our mission, “to improve the quality of life and ensure dignity and respect for persons with serious mental illness and offer support to their families and close friends.
  4. Housing – NAMI Ohio’s Board of Directors challenged the staff to expand housing (“one bed at a time”). To that effort, NAMI Ohio hired a full-time Housing Director in January 2023 to lead our efforts to increase the quality in Ohio’s group homes (Adult Care Facilities) and expand long-term housing for those most in need. We will be working with the Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association to host a Housing Conference Oct. 16-18. I can say NAMI Ohio is developing partnerships to advocate for the full continuum of housing: crisis/diversion centers, access to inpatient access beds at the State Hospitals and private institutions quality of private hospitals, Mental Health Rehabilitation Centers (Dani’s Place in Toledo is moving forward with hopes to break ground in the Fall). This will be the 2nd rehabilitation center (the first being Adam-Amanda). NAMI Ohio is working with several other counties as potential partners to develop new facilities.
  5. Expand diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and outreach: This will occur via a grant with an Ohio Department of Health to engage specific audiences through stigma reductions via marketing campaigns, workforce fellowships, and targeted education and support groups in the African-American, Appalachia, and Farming communities. NAMI Ohio will continue the statewide focus with the participating communities from “What Works in My Community” to develop our messaging. NAMI affiliates are working with local community centers, churches and other faith-based entities, schools, libraries, NAMI Program participants, etc. to identify messages and services that resonate with diverse audiences. NAMI Ohio will encourage responsiveness from the mental health system for underserved communities by using the results and feedback of marketing campaigns and education programs in the urban communities to gain access to services and resources often unavailable to these communities.
  6. Client Navigation – fully implemented/integrated into the work at NAMI Ohio. NAMI Ohio’s full-time Client Navigator manages over 300 calls per month. Two-thirds of the contacts are via the phone; 20% via the website/chat feature, followed by the 24-hour answering service. One-third of the calls are from individuals/Self, one-third are from family or friends. 25% of the calls sought direct/crisis and our support groups; about 20% housing, group homes, and residential, followed by peer support, Affiliates, and business related.

Our Mission at NAMI Ohio is to improve the quality of life and ensure dignity and respect for persons with serious mental illness and offer support to their families and loved ones. We do this through our education, support, and advocacy at no financial cost to individuals and families.  This mission and the services at NAMI are needed now, more than ever. I never heard anyone say, I want to have mental illness. But being the Director of NAMI Ohio, I often hear of the pain and neglect so many living with mental illness and their families feel. Today, let us be proud that we have made the commitment to be a voice and we will not be drowned out. When we look back, it will be NAMI that pushes the changes, the ones that did not just talk about the crisis but demanded action. In 2020 I was chosen to be the next leader at NAMI Ohio, I cannot adequately express how during my short tenure at NAMI has impacted my view of the world and how we treat those most in need. The people I’ve met – most of them living with mental illness or family members – always have a common thread. They just want help through the darkest times of these illnesses and NAMI gives them hope. I believe NAMI is the light, I believe NAMI NOW, MORE THAN EVER!

Sincerely, Luke Russell

OACFA Newsletter

OACFA Newsletter

Download the latest newsletter from the Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association. This edition is jam-packed with lots of great information and updates, you don’t want to miss it!


A Look Inside the Courtroom

A Look Inside the Courtroom

Written by: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio 

FAIRFIELD, OH – Judge Joyce A. Campbell’s Fairfield Municipal Courtroom looks like any other: a judge in a black robe, a jury box, witness stand, tables for attorneys, and armed law enforcement.

But when the gavel comes down in the Fairfield Municipal Court Treatment Alternative Court (TAC) you see things are very different in this courtroom.

TAC is a special court where Judge Campbell deals with misdemeanor offenders who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. While TAC is voluntary, those sent to Judge Campbell’s court are there in hopes of avoiding jail on misdemeanor charges whenever possible. Instead, they receive alternative sentences – mental health and physical health treatment, access to drug and alcohol programs, and case management to help with employment, education, housing, and transportation.

Ohio has 40 mental health courts, which are among a total of more than 249 specialty courts for drunk driving, drug abuse, human trafficking, veterans, and other offenses.

Judge Campbell, who is national president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a NAMI Ohio Board member, is a leading advocate of helping people with mental health issues avoid being trapped in a court system where they often end up behind bars where their mental illness remains untreated and sometimes worsens.

“This is where my heart is. People with mental illness have been treated very poorly by the criminal justice system,” Judge Campbell said after a recent 90-minute TAC session where she handled 16 cases. Most people remain under court supervision for one to two years.

Judge Campbell deals on a first-name basis with everyone who appears before her. She alternates between being complimentary and supportive of those who have made positive efforts, and sharply critical while warning offenders who have run off track that jail time is a real possibility.

“I’m not asking you. I’m telling you,” she said to one young man who failed several mandatory drug tests. “The alternative is jail, and I don’t want to do that.”

Now and then, Judge Campbell finds no alternative. A woman she previously sentenced to jail for violating her probation appeared in court in shackles dressed in a Butler County Jail uniform. She told the judge, “I’m going to remain sober. I’m done now.” She said she spent her 33rd birthday in jail without a celebration or a birthday cake.

“Do not do anything. They’re going to drug test you,” Judge Campbell said after agreeing to release the woman the next day. She sweetened the deal by promising her “a real cake” if she stayed clean and sober until her next court date in July. “Do you want chocolate or vanilla?” the judge asked. She wanted vanilla. “We’ll have cake,” Judge Campbell said.

In another case, she excused herself from the bench in the middle of talking to a man who said he mediated to calm himself to avoid repeating past mistakes. She returned a few minutes later from her office with a Tibetan singing bowl, a brass bowl that makes soothing sound vibrations when struck with a wooden mallet. She demonstrated and told the man, “Get yourself a singing bowl.”

No two cases in the Fairfield TAC are treated the same. Judge Campbell praised some but gave stern warnings to others who made repeated mistakes.

“Two steps forward and one step back. I don’t want to cha-cha with you. You’ve got to start thinking, young man,” she said. “Your actions have consequences.”

To another, she said, “You’ve got an incredibly bright future, I don’t want you to blow that up.”

A man who had missed a previous court appearance got a tongue-lashing. “These are not invitations from the court. These are orders from the court. They will come and take you to jail.”

Judge Campbell was amazed to learn one offender smoked marijuana the day before he appeared in her court.

“It interferes with your psychotropic medication,” she told him. “And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people in this court who thought they were smoking a little weed and it turned out it had fentanyl in it. Do you know what happens then? You end up dead.”

Most people who appear in Judge Campbell’s court are referred by police, prosecutors, or the public defender in hopes they can be rehabilitated without serving jail time. In most cases, they can also get their record expunged because a criminal record is a major handicap for former offenders seeking employment and housing.

The most common diagnoses of those in TAC are bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. Some also have developmental disabilities and drug issues as well.

The judge partners with a team in her courtroom, including Max Bryant, a probation officer assigned to the court; Tina Barrett, an attorney from the public defender’s office; Amy Crouch and Brandi Justice, from TLC Transitional Living, an agency offering counseling, psychiatric service, and residential care, and Maxine Seelenbinder-Apke or other representatives from NAMI Butler County. A city prosecutor sometimes sits in as well.

TAC is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Offenders must follow a lengthy, specific set of rules, including abstaining from drugs and alcohol, attending counseling appointments and drug tests as required, taking prescribed medications, paying court costs and fines, and avoiding further run-ins with the law. They pay a diversion fee and monthly charge for probation reporting.

While TAC is the most time-intensive of Judge Campbell’s assignments, she has many other unrelated civil and criminal cases – a total of about 10,000 per year.


Advocacy Alert! – We need your help!

Advocacy Alert! – We need your help!

NAMI Ohio Call to Action – Ohio House Budget a Disaster for Mental Health

Governor DeWine’s Budget made great strides in the funding of much needed mental health services.

It is our understanding that the amended House version of the Budget Bill for FY 24-25 (HB 33) will go to the House floor early next week for vote. Much of the progress made in the Governor’s budget was eliminated in the House Budget. The increase to Residential State Supplement (RSS), funding for prevention and criminal justice services, the increase to local ADAMH Boards, and the increase for behavioral health Medicaid rates were significantly reduced. In addition, the House has reduced the request of the Governor for the expansion of beds within our state hospital system.

It is vital that your State Representative hears from you today or tomorrow! We need the voice of individuals with mental illness, their family members and those that want a quality of life for all Ohioans to speak up.

Call or Email your member of the Ohio House of Representatives today!

  1. Click the RED button below
  2. Enter your address in the browser window and hit submit to find your representatives
  3. Click the name of your representative that pops up
  4. On your representative’s webpage —> click on contact to view the representative’s phone number
  5. You can also email your representative directly  by emailing

    rep(insert district number)


When you email or call your representative, the following are the key issues that need to be amended in the proposed HB 33

Key Issues with the ask in the amended House Budget Bill:

NAMI Ohio’s advocacy is to restore the mental health budget as introduced by Governor DeWine. Although all these key issues are important, NAMI Ohio’s number one priority is restoring the residential state supplement.

  • Return to the Governor’s budget allocation amounts for the Residential State Supplement line of $24,000,000 per year. The lack of housing is at crisis level and mental health group homes have not seen an increase in funding for over 7 years. We see increased demand for group homes as more and more homes close due to inadequate funding. Many of these individuals waiting to find supportive group homes end up homeless, in our criminal justice system or worse!
  • Return to the Governor’s budget allocation amount for the Prevention and Wellness line at $13,868,659 per year, and the Criminal Justice line at $30,044,829 per year. The proposed cuts will result in less housing, prevention, and criminal justice services for individuals throughout Ohio. Now is not the time to further limit access to critical services that support the well-being of individuals impacted by mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • Return to the Governor’s budget allocation amount of $106,214,846 each year that supports the local continuum of care. The proposed changes in the Sub-HB 33 decrease the total line item and increase the number of earmarks in the line item. This will effectively result in a cut to allocations to local ADAMH Boards. This line item represents the largest state general revenue investment in the local continuum of mental health services. This line item allows local ADAMH Boards to fund a range of critical and necessary crisis, treatment, and recovery support services for communities throughout Ohio. We ask that you restore this line item to the as-introduced amount.
  • Increase community behavioral health Medicaid rates by an additional 10%. The severe workforce shortage is resulting in increased pressure on community behavioral health services, increasing wait times, and impacting recruitment and retention of qualified individuals. This increased investment is necessary to stabilize and strengthen the behavioral health workforce.
  • Restore the funding of $32 million to expand state hospital bed capacity, ensure patient and hospital staff safety, and alleviate stress placed on adjacent systems such as jails and courts

The State Budget for FY 2022/2023 moved us forward, and the as-introduced Governor’s DeWine’s budget 2024/2025 took a leap forward to just catch up to the surge in demand for services and supports. THE AMENDED HOUSE BUDGET REVERSES THESE SMALL GAINS MADE OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS AND ENSURES THAT A PERSON-CENTERED COMMUNITY SYSTEM CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE BUILT.

Never in the history of this country has there been more awareness of the need to fix a broken mental health system. We cannot allow this opportunity to be lost.


Thank you for your consideration of this request and thank you for the work you do on behalf of all Ohioans. If you have any questions about this letter or about community mental health services, please feel free to contact me.

As the House finalizes the budget bill and it moves to the Senate, we will be asking you again to make your voice heard with your Senators.

Please contact me with any comments or questions. The individuals NAMI Ohio loves, cares for, and represents need our advocacy.


Luke Russell, Executive Director