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The Columbus Dispatch, November 4, 2021

Death at Gahanna mental health facility raises questions about owners, state oversight

Read the article on The Columbus Dispatch website or download here 

What a tragic story. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI Ohio), represents those living with mental illness and their families. All too often, we are made aware of tragedies caused by this mean illness.

We honor those who try their best to help us through the darkness. But we also know, families provide most of the caregiving to their loved ones.

When needing help, it is often a lonely journey and can be very difficult to navigate through the maze of the mental health system.

When reading a story like this, we believe it is about more than the failure that led to this loss, it also highlights the need that is not available to so many with mental health issues needing help now.

A Cincinnati family sending someone to central Ohio should not have to happen. The family must be part of the treatment and treatment must be available in the local community so that the family can participate on behalf of their loved one.

Unfortunately, the state of the current mental health system (again well-intentioned) can make it difficult for families to find available services.

We must look at the situation identified in this article, and many similar tragedies, and use it as a catalyst to make change in the mental health system.

We applaud the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services for their current work on developing crisis services that should be available throughout the state in the next few years. When a person is in crisis, as was Susan, the family must have an immediate place to go to receive help and direction.

NAMI Ohio wants to emphasize that licensure and surveying are extremely important but hiring more state employees for that purpose is not the answer. The answer is to put funding into more services like crisis, client navigation, housing, and supportive services to those in need.

Today, NAMI Ohio mourns the loss of Susan and our prayers are with the family.