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Call to Mind Live: Preventing Teen Suicide in a Pandemic of Isolation

Call to Mind Live: Preventing Teen Suicide in a Pandemic of Isolation

Many teens are still cut off from valuable connections since the pandemic shut down schools. Friends and teachers are less available. Remote learning has shifted reality pausing clubs, sports and extracurricular activities that gave so many teens added purpose and connection. This new isolation is triggering feelings of anxiety, depression and worse.

Teen suicide is a growing crisis in America. The CDC reports one in four young adults contemplated suicide during the pandemic. And, suicide consistently ranks as the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24. What are the warning signs of suicide? And how can at-risk youth be identified with time to intervene?

Cincinnati Public Radio’s Michael Monks hosts Call to Mind Live: Preventing Teen Suicide in a Pandemic of Isolation, a Well Beings Virtual Tour Event. Ohio teens and mental health experts join to share the complexities of teen suicide, warning signs and specific things parents, teachers, and others can do to help.

WELL BEINGS is a major national campaign from WETA addressing health needs in America with a focus on youth mental health.

The WELL BEINGS TOUR is made possible by Otsuka, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, American Psychiatric Association Foundation, One Mind, Movember, National Alliance on Mental Illness, The Dauten Family Foundation, Dana Foundation, Hersh Foundation, Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission, Frances Von Schlegell and John E. Von Schlegell, Robina Riccitiello, Sutter Health, and Jackson Family Enterprises. Partners include CALL TO MIND at American Public Media, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, Forbes, PEOPLE, Mental Health America, The Steve Fund, and The Jed Foundation.

Call to Mind is American Public Media’s initiative to foster new conversations about mental health. Call to Mind is bringing mental health conversations into the open, increasing public knowledge and engagement, to empower people to find the support they want and need.


Mar 16, 2021 04:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register Here

Open Letter to Ohio’s Congressional Delegation Concerning Rule Change in the Six Protected Classes of Medicare Part D

Open Letter to Ohio’s Congressional Delegation Concerning Rule Change in the Six Protected Classes of Medicare Part D

March 3, 2021

Open Letter to Ohio’s Congressional Delegation Concerning Rule Change in the Six Protected Classes of Medicare Part D

The organizations undersigned on this letter advocate for Ohioans with critical needs for medication. Our patients must have dependable, affordable access to medicines that allow for optimal physical and mental health, and in some cases, to keep them alive.

We are writing to raise our concern for a recent action that impacts the affordability and accessibility of medicines offered through Medicare Part D. The Six Protected Classes of medications offered in Medicare Part D is subject to a change that will reduce availability of critical medicines for patients with complex medical needs.

On the final day of the Trump administration, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) modified the Part D Payment Modernization Model, to allow for significant changes to Medicare prescription drug coverage starting in 2022. The changes are aimed at medicines in the Six Protected Classes which are:
▪ Anticonvulsants, which treat epileptic seizures.
▪ Antidepressants, which treat depression and other psychiatric illnesses.
▪ Antineoplastics, which prevent or inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.
▪ Antipsychotics, which treat acute psychosis, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
▪ Antiretrovirals, which treat HIV.
▪ Immunosuppressants, which prevent organ rejection in transplant patients.

The modifications would drop the requirement that all drugs included in the six protected classes are covered on plans’ Part D formularies. Drugs in the HIV class would have a one-year delay until protection status would also be removed in 2023. Any plan participating in this CMMI model would be permitted to include only one drug on the formulary in each of the six protected classes, a further reduction from the current standard of two drugs per class throughout Part D.
These changes will impact thousands of Ohioans with complex illnesses, who depend on protections that ensure that the treatments they need are available to them. The changes will reduce the variety of prescription drugs needed by people with mental illness, cancer, HIV, seizure disorders, and people who have had organ and tissue transplants.

We ask that our federal lawmakers preserve the integrity of the Medicare Part D program and its six protected classes. The patients we serve must have access to the full range of treatment options to ensure physicians and patients can address individual medical needs.

On behalf of the Ohio patients we serve, we urge you to encourage the Biden administration to stop the Six Protected Classes model from moving forward.

Thank you for considering our request.

Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and Northern Ohio
American Liver Foundation
Beacon Charitable Pharmacy
Charitable Healthcare Network Ohio
Cincinnati Area Senior Services
Equitas Health
Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio
Epilepsy Association
Epilepsy Foundation Ohio
Healing Hearts of Central Ohio
Kidney Foundation of Ohio, Inc.
Mental Health America of Ohio
Prevent Blindness Ohio
National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio
Ohio Foot and Ankle Medical Association
Ohio Osteopathic Association
Ohio Pharmacists Association
Ohio Psychological Association
Ohio Public Health Association
Ohio State Grange

Pandemic focuses funding on mental health, but advocates say more is needed: Coping through COVID

Pandemic focuses funding on mental health, but advocates say more is needed: Coping through COVID

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget recommendations increase funding for mental health and addiction treatment services that have been vital throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposals have garnered the support of organizations addressing the challenges created by the pandemic. But do they go far enough to address the potential mental-health fallout of the crisis, which experts say could last even longer than the pandemic itself?

Advocates said the budget recommendations are a significant step. They’re grateful to see an increase amid the crisis, though they say more investments could be needed to create long-term stability for services that have traditionally gone underfunded.

Investing in mental health and behavioral health is critical for Ohio’s “return to normal” after the pandemic, said Scott Osiecki, the CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County. Issues like anxiety, depression, stress and grief could linger well after the coronavirus vaccine is widely available.

“It’s a basic need, like housing,” Osiecki said. “Behavioral health is really important to the overall health of the community.”

The series “Coping Through COVID” aims to help Northeast Ohio residents manage the stress of COVID-19 by examining by examining the mental health aspects of the pandemic. The series tells individuals’ stories and explores various challenges and coping strategies with experts.

DeWine’s budget recommendations include a 10.9% increase in funding for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in fiscal year 2021, and another 1.9% increase in FY 2022. The state legislature could alter any of the recommendations before approving a final budget.

Terry Russell, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for Ohio, said he is “cautiously optimistic” the legislature will adopt the DeWine’s recommendations. But he cautioned that reducing the proposed level of funding could leave Ohio scrambling to address the fallout from the pandemic.

“Any reduction of that would be a disaster,” he said. “It would literally put the mental health system in crisis.”

For examples, experts point to domestic violence programs. They say the pandemic has created a “perfect storm” of risk factors for domestic violence, and more than half of Ohio’s domestic violence programs have reported an increase in the number of people seeking shelter or requesting services.

DeWine’s budget includes $1 million per fiscal year for domestic violence programs, but the Ohio Domestic Violence Network is lobbying for an increase to $5 million per year, the organization’s executive director Mary O’Doherty said.

Domestic violence programs have been hurt by recent cuts to grants from the Victims of Crime Act, the federal program that provides money for therapy and other services. Ohio’s domestic violence programs lost $7.7 million for the next fiscal year, and have seen budget reductions of nearly 40% over the past two years, O’Doherty said. The network is asking the state to provide more money to make up for those losses.

“We are a pretty critical part of the social safety net, and we just need to do a better job of funding these programs,” O’Doherty said.

Addressing the issues exacerbated by the pandemic

Advocates have long argued that mental health, addiction treatment and domestic violence programs have been underfunded in the U.S., resulting in limited access to treatment in many communities. The problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic because many providers were forced to limit in-person services and switch to telehealth.

Some of DeWine’s budget recommendations target the issues that have been a focus during the pandemic. For example, the recommendations include $2.25 million per year to help parents, pediatricians and teachers identify signs of mental health conditions. Experts say that could be critical, because it’s unclear how children will be affected by taking classes from home for a full year.

The recommendations maintain funding in several key areas for the ADAMHS Board, Osiecki said. The Northeast Ohio collaborative – which includes the ADAMHS Boards in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Summit and Medina counties – could get $7.5 million for withdrawal management and crisis stabilization funding.

The recommendations also increase the state’s continuum of care budget from $76 million to $82 million; the line item pays for services like suicide prevention, crisis response and treatment and recovery services, Osiecki said. The ADAMHS Board is hoping the final budget approved by the legislature includes an increase of closer to $15 million instead of just $6 million, he said.

The recommendations also begin to address some of the state’s long-term needs, advocates said. NAMI Ohio has been advocating for years for funding for people with a debilitating mental illness who often wind up in jail or a homeless shelter.

The budget also provides funding to help people living with debilitating mental illness. That group, which Russell estimated to include 50,000 people living in Ohio, have often lacked the community support they need. The result has either been an increased burden on their families or homelessness or jail time, he said. The governor’s recommendations include $5.5 million per year to help various systems coordinate to meet their needs, and $6 million per year to improve residential facilities for adults with a serious mental illness.

Domestic violence services struggle for funding

Advocates acknowledged that money is tight during the pandemic, but there are certain areas where they’d like to see more investment.

Domestic violence services have already seen budget cuts of roughly 40% over the past two years and are expecting another 30% cut in VOCA funds next fiscal year, O’Doherty said. The result is that many shelters have been forced to lay off staff, reducing the number of workers and counselors who are available to assist women and children in crisis.

Domestic violence programs could use additional funding to hire more staff, O’Doherty said. Staffing limitations are causing many programs to struggle to meet the needs of women in crisis who are seeking help.

“Right now, our programs turn away people every day,” O’Doherty said. “It would help us meet the need.”

O’Doherty said part of the issue with funding domestic violence could be that it often goes underreported, so it’s difficult to pinpoint how prevalent it is. But a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey from 2015 found one in five women experience severe physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime.

During the pandemic, many advocates have worried that women being isolated at home with an abuser led to a decrease in calls to domestic violence hotlines early in the crisis. O’Doherty is hopeful that attention to the issue could persuade some lawmakers to increase support.

“It’s a significant social issue that families live with day in and day out. It’s just like substance abuse or mental health, or any other kind of social issue society deals with,” she said.

Moving forward

To meet the state’s long-term mental health needs, NAMI Ohio is primarily focused on changing the way the money is used, Russell said. He believes services should take an individualized approach to care, rather than a one-size-fits all approach to mental illness.

“We need to be looking at the individual with the mental illness, and not the system,” he said.

Advocates are also focused on the employees and counselors who provide services, because the strain on the workforce isn’t unique to domestic violence programs. Agencies that provide mental health and addiction treatment services have also seen significant turnover during the pandemic.

Investing in a pipeline to train and retain workers could be critical for the long term, advocates said. That would help reduce turnover and help agencies provide better services.

“The workforce was struggling even before this,” Osiecki said. “There’s not enough people to provide services. And this is throughout the whole state. Actually, the whole country.”

Are you, a family member or a friend in crisis? or do you need mental health or substance use services? Here’s a list of agencies that can help.

  • Frontline Services: 24-hour crisis hotline 216-623-6888
  • Suicide prevention hotline: 800-273-TALK or 800-SUICIDE
  • Cuyahoga County suicide prevention, mental health/addiction crisis, information and referral hotline: available 24 hours at 216-623-6888
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Cleveland: Non-crisis hotline 216-875-0266 (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County: Online new service finder tool
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: Online resource for COVID-19 related information and services available amid the pandemic
  • Ohio CareLine: Emotional support call service from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Toll-free at 1-800-720-9616
  • Ohio Crisis Text Line: Text keyword “4HOPE” to 741 741
  • Find Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Treatment:
  • Disaster Distress help line: available 24/7 at 1-800-985-5990 or TTY at 1-800-846-8517. Also available by texting “TalkWithUs” to 66746; Spanish-speakers can text “Hablanos” to 66746.

2022/2023 State Budget

2022/2023 State Budget


Contact: Luke Russell, 614-224-2700

The National Alliance on Mental Illness for Ohio commends Governor DeWine’s 2022/2023 State Budget for the focus on those with serious behavioral health needs.

The dollars allocated for cross-system collaboration and investments in housing will improve the lives of those with serious mental illness.

Columbus, Ohio – NAMI Ohio applauds Governor DeWine and his team for their continued commitment to the most vulnerable in Ohio, those with serious mental illness. Those with serious mental illness continue to be over represented in our jails, homeless shelters and on the streets of Ohio. These special folks continue to have a life expectancy rate 8 ½ years less than the general population. The ongoing need for basic supports such as food, housing, crisis intervention and care coordination must be addressed at the local, state and federal levels.

This budget is a huge step forward in moving us to a person-centered approach by investing in care coordination and housing with an enhanced focus on adults with serious mental illness.  “Governor DeWine promised to address the fragmented system of care and is delivering by addressing the core elements of those most in need of basic supports within the mental health delivery system,” said Terry Russell, Executive Director of NAMI Ohio. “The $11 million investment to strengthen cross-system collaboration begins to address issues such as continued readmissions into inpatient hospitals, the revolving cycle of repeated incarcerations, and lack of transition as those with serious mental illness seek to live full lives in the community. Furthermore, NAMI looks forward to working with the General Assembly to maintain this safety net funding for those with serious mental illness.”

Also, NAMI Ohio applauds the Governor and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for their efforts to improve group homes for those with serious mental illness. “The $12 million allocation to improve the quality in these homes could not come at a better time with limited housing options and a freeze on admissions due to COVID-19. “During this COVID Pandemic, the Governor and Department have committed a sizable amount of time, energy and resources to ensure the 700+ group homes had testing, PPEs and vaccinations.” Said Russell. “This budget allocation is just a continuation of Governor DeWine and Director Lori Criss’ commitment to the individuals with serious mental illness that call these residential settings home.”

Russell stated, “Early on in Governor DeWine’s term, NAMI Ohio proposed that a priority be made to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness through a focus on community-based supports beyond what the current system is providing. This budget proposal is just another step and example of how the Governor and his Administration have listened to the cries of individuals and their families we represent.”


The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI Ohio) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI Ohio is comprised of families, persons diagnosed with mental illness, and advocates working together to ensure that Ohioans with mental illness and their loved ones receive the treatment and support they need. The mission of NAMI Ohio is to improve the quality of life, ensure dignity and respect for persons with serious mental illness, and to support their families.


On Inauguration Day, NAMI Calls for Addressing Mental Health: the Silent Epidemic within the Pandemic

On Inauguration Day, NAMI Calls for Addressing Mental Health: the Silent Epidemic within the Pandemic

Jan 20, 2021


Arlington, Va. — As the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) congratulates President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration today. NAMI looks forward to working with the new administration to build better lives for the millions of people in our country who are affected by mental illness.

More people than ever are experiencing anxiety and depression for the first time because of the challenges related to COVID-19, economic hardship and racial injustice. The demand for mental health services is increasing. We are in the midst of alarming mental health, substance use and suicide challenges that are taxing an already fragmented system of care.

Last week, President Biden announced the American Rescue Plan, which includes significant investments that would help people with mental health conditions. In addition to proposals that will help people access mental health care and focus on their wellness, including expanding health care subsidies, extending the eviction moratorium and providing emergency housing assistance, the plan specifically addresses the country’s mental health needs during this crisis. The plan calls for an additional $4 billion to help people access mental health and substance use care.

“We need to alleviate the pain and suffering of millions of Americans by increasing access to quality mental health and substance use interventions,” said Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of NAMI. “More people—including our nation’s youth and first responders—are reporting their mental health is worse than it was a year ago. NAMI applauds the President’s call for substantial resources to expand access to mental health and substance use services.”

To further address the growing mental health epidemic within the pandemic, NAMI urges the Biden administration to prioritize a cross-agency effort to help people get on the path to recovery. We hope the new administration will use the Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care, developed in partnership with 14 of the nation’s leading mental health organizations, as a roadmap to changing the paradigm for mental health care in our country. To achieve this vision, we must institute policies, programs and standards that value the critical importance of mental health. We must intentionally address the inequities in care and unacceptable disparities in outcomes that result from systemic racism and discrimination. We must invest in comprehensive system solutions that promote mental wellness for all.

Together, NAMI looks forward to working with President Biden and his administration to find solutions that help everyone get the mental health support they need.

NAMI Athens Recognizes Local Schools

NAMI Athens Recognizes Local Schools

Written by: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio 

It turned out 2020 was a banner year for Athens County schools.

While the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected all students and teachers, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Athens affiliate wanted to recognize the strength and resilience of their area schools by presenting special banners to all schools in Athens County.

Gregory Polzer, a former teacher, adviser to the NAMI Board, and member of the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, came up with the idea of creating banners to show appreciation for schools helping students, teachers, parents and the community during these difficult times. Polzer said he hoped the signs would “put a smile on all their faces every time they read the banner.”

The NAMI Athens board worked with Performance Signs in Athens to create customized 3 foot by 4 foot banners that included each school’s school colors and mascots. The banners were distributed to every school in Athens County, including the vocational- technical high school and school for handicapped students.

NAMI arranged delivery dates of the colorful banners with superintendents of each school district. At the presentation, Polzer and others spoke of the appreciation for the schools’ effort during trying times and the importance of mental health care