Helpline: 1-800-686-2646 or text NAMI to 741741 1225 Dublin Road, Suite 210, Columbus OH 43215
Commitment to Mental Illness in the Governor’s State of the State Address

Commitment to Mental Illness in the Governor’s State of the State Address

NAMI Ohio Executive Director Terry Russell was humbled to be recognized for his contribution to those living with mental illness and their families by Governor DeWine during today’s State of the State Address. More important than the recognition was Governor DeWine’s message about the need to fulfill the promises that were never kept after the closure of Ohio’s state psychiatric hospitals.


NAMI Ohio stands ready to work with the Governor, and Legislature, in any way we can to ensure that Ohio’s citizens living with mental illness have the support and care needed to live successful lives.


NAMI Ohio is an organization that represents those living with mental illness and their families. We have never been more excited than we are today about the opportunities presented in the State of the State Address.


We want to thank Governor DeWine for his years of support of those we represent and for his commitment to correct past failures that have negatively impacted so many people.


Future generations will remember today’s State of the State Address in the same way we remember Dorothea Dix in the late 1800s begging for mental health reform.


NAMI Ohio and all of those that we represent urges everyone that has an opportunity to be part of this change to make it happen! It is time now to fulfill the promises that were never kept and give every Ohio citizen living with mental illness and their families the care that they deserve.


If anyone needs help navigating the mental health system, please do not hesitate to contact NAMI Ohio at 800-686-2646 or


You can watch the video of State of the State Address on the Ohio Channel at the link below:

Mental Health Rehabilitation Center will Become a Reality in Lucas County

Mental Health Rehabilitation Center will Become a Reality in Lucas County

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio, the state’s voice on mental illness, and one of the largest statewide mental health advocacy organizations in the country, thanks Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur for her work to secure funding to build the second mental health rehabilitation center in the state of Ohio. The $2 million that was allocated was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and is currently awaiting President Biden’s signature.

The Northwest Ohio Mental Health Rehabilitation Center will serve individuals coming out of psychiatric hospitals and provide care for up to 90 days allowing these individuals the time needed to stabilize and plan for discharge and continuing care in the community.

None of this would have happened if it was not for the dedication of the Lucas County ADAMH Board and especially the executive director Scott Sylak. They are the ones who joined hands with NAMI Ohio to make this rehabilitation center a reality for the citizens of their community.

Terry Russell, NAMI Ohio Executive Director says, “We see every day the consequences of untreated mental illness. We see the people on the streets and in our jails and prisons. There are many individuals living with mental illness who are cared for by their families who are ill-equipped to deal with their complex mental health symptoms. Due to the courage of the longest-serving female congresswoman to ever serve, Marcy Kaptur, we will save countless lives.”

We also recognize Lori Criss, Director, of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for her ongoing support of these mental health rehabilitation centers.

For those who want to contribute to this project, please contact the NAMI Ohio office at 614-224-2700.

For those who want more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office via email at

The Daunting Mental Health Impact of COVID

The Daunting Mental Health Impact of COVID


Written by Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio

Kristan Runyan expected the break from in-person teaching due to the COVID19 pandemic would be short-lived when she gathered up her supplies and left Tecumseh Middle School in Clark County in March 2020.

She had no idea she wouldn’t be returning to her classroom for four months and that “normal” wouldn’t be back nearly two years later.
When teaching shifted to the virtual classroom, not all of Kristan’s seventh-grade social studies students had video cameras or turned them on.

“Some of them were just a little icon on the screen,” she said with sadness in her voice.



A Great Loss

A Great Loss

Yesterday, the NAMI family lost a real champion. Lisa Marie Griffin has been a special advocate for NAMI Ohio, NAMI Greater Cleveland, NAMI Summit County, and other NAMI Ohio affiliates for the past 20 years. Terry Russell, Executive Director of NAMI Ohio, befriended Lisa Marie when she was recovering from not only her mental illness but also the lifelong trauma she had endured.

In our last NAMI Ohio NewsBrief we featured Lisa Marie for her tenacity and her voice that has saved so many Ohio citizens (article linked below)

In our conference room is an award she received last year. Lisa Marie was named the Ohio CIT Person with Lived Experience of the Year, a well-deserved honor for her work Crisis Intervention Team Training.

Lisa Marie will always be remembered for her commitment and passion for those we serve. Today, Heaven received a new Angel. She will be sorely missed.

God bless Lisa Marie Griffin

Ohio Submits 988 Emergency Mental Health Line Plan

Ohio Submits 988 Emergency Mental Health Line Plan

Ohio officials have submitted a plan to the federal government to implement a statewide “988” National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 22 this year.

The new system “is designed to better connect crisis care services with individuals and families experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis,” according to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services which is in charge of setting up the new system. “Ohio evidence suggests that the precursors to needing crisis care and related problems remain at high levels throughout the state.”

A new emergency number is similar to the familiar “911,” but is specifically designed to summon help for people in a mental health or suicidal crisis. Callers will be connected through call centers to trained personnel and other resources.

In researching the setup plan, state officials gathered statistics on suicides and attempted suicides going back 10 years in some cases.

One finding was that the pattern of suicides does not necessarily correlate to the state’s highest population centers: Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo. Instead, “the highest proportions of suicide are occurring in the Appalachian and northwest regions of the state,” the report says.

Overall, there was a 27 percent increase in the number of suicides in Ohio between 2010 and 2019. That represents 12.31 suicides per 100,000 populations in 2010 compared to 15.49 suicides per 100,000 populations in 2019.  However, both rates were below national numbers.

The report also notes that some groups of people were at a higher risk of suicide than others, specifically “those with only a high school education or less and those who are divorced are at an elevated risk for suicide.  Also, it is worthy of note that men are almost four times more likely to attempt and complete suicide than women.”

Young people, in general, are particularly susceptible to ideas of suicide, the state report said, due to being bullied (32 percent), experiencing anxiety (27 percent), and having depression or anxiety (21 percent).

Ohio’s Lifeline provider network will cover all 88 counties. Currently, 22 counties do not have any Lifeline provider service.

The first $400 million to pay for the network has been provided by the federal government, but ongoing funding has yet to be determined. The current network of crisis lines is funded by a patchwork of government, private and non-profit sources.

Information on the 988 plan is online here:

Written by: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio 

Advocate Spotlight

Advocate Spotlight

Meet NAMI Ohio Board Member, Valerie Walker

From the time she was a child, Valerie Walker liked taking care of those in need, especially children. She learned it from her mother, Vellier, who was active in church outreach, and her father, Herbert, who volunteered with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Cincinnati.

“I think it’s just who I am,” Valerie said. “My thing is taking care of people.”

Valerie wears many hats: parent, accountant, minister, church volunteer, homeless advocate, and board member for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio.
Despite many accomplishments, Valerie is modest and soft-spoken. “It’s not about me. It’s about ‘we,’” she said.

The Cincinnati native’s passion, as she puts it, is to “encourage, advocate, support and educate those living with a mental illness and their loved ones especially those experiencing homelessness in our communities.”

She was raised in a Christian family and is the oldest of seven children. Valerie’s parents “taught me to give back from an early age,” she said.

Her efforts to help the homeless, especially children, are focused through the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, a 30-year old organization that began when a handful of Cincinnati-area churches and synagogues opened their doors to homeless families. The network now has more than 100 congregational partners representing all faiths, funding from the United Way and City of Cincinnati, and provides overnight shelter, food, daycare, and other services to homeless families.

Homeless children touch Valerie’s heart the most, especially since the COVID-19 virus plagued the community beginning last year.

“The children have lost their home and they don’t know why,” she said. “They’ve lost their friends. They have to learn to wear a mask. Their parents are home or out of work and more children are suffering.”

“My concern is their mental health,” said Valerie who has been on the NAMI Ohio Board and co-chair of NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati since 2017. “They lost connection with their schools and their friends. Many parents are frustrated and angry. There are so many untold stories.”

Valerie and her colleagues have parties and pizza nights for kids to relieve a bit of the sadness kids suffer from losing their homes and stability.

Valerie, the parent of two children herself, said NAMI and other groups are pushing to help kids by ensuring there is a mental health provider available at every school. That help is needed regularly, she said, not just when a child acts out and gets sent to juvenile detention. By then, problems have started that could potentially have been averted by early intervention.

There is hope for the future, Valerie believes, because she has watched Gov. Mike DeWine provide increased funding and support for mental health programs in general and for children in particular.”

“I know he’s a person that cares,” she said.

Information about the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati is available online at

Click Here to download the NAMI Ohio Newsbrief including this article and much more info!