BY D’ARCY EGAN
The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa County (MHRBEO) will again ask voters to support its levy on the Tuesday, Nov. 5 ballot to allow it to continue the fight to bring critical mental health and addiction treatment to those in the area who need it.
The Mental Health and Recovery Board has created a much-needed hand-in-glove relationship with a long list services available to those in need of treatment, said Executive Director Brenda Cronin.
In Port Clinton, for instance, the MHRBEO is the primary support for both the men’s and women’s houses of Lighthouse Sober Living, a very successful non-profit organization providing recovery housing and counseling. It helps to fund Bayshore Counseling Services and Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services in Port Clinton.
The Mental Health and Recovery Board also continues to do more with less. Last year, a record 27,000 people benefited from the 220 programs and services it helps to support.
“We help people who need mental health or addiction services to connect with providers we know will help them,” said Cronin. “We work to maximize our support while continuing to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars.”
The MHRBEO does not provide mental health or addiction treatment. Its expertise is in connecting people with the community agencies and local providers who can provide counseling and support services, ensuring trained professionals and proven treatment methods are there for them.
The growing number of addictions in Ottawa and Erie counties confirm the need for MHRBEO services, said Cronin.
“No. 1 for substance abuse, the drug of choice, is still alcohol, rather than amphetamines or cocaine. And fentanyl has certainly added to the opioid epidemic,” she said. “Many don’t want to acknowledge their addiction, or may think it is weak to ask for help. But treatment is the best course for a return to a healthy life.”
Cronin praised the people of Ottawa and Erie counties for their support of the board.
“The people in this area are so giving, so committed to helping others. And local agencies help with treating mental health and addictions, making for a collaborative effort,” she said.
Cronin pointed to GRANDlove, an Ottawa County program that assists grandparents who find themselves having to raise grandchildren because of a parent’s mental health problems or addiction.
“The GRANDlove program has been a much-needed lifeline for helping those children and their grandparents,” said Cronin.
“Another outstanding example of support is Judge Kathleen L. Geisler of the Ottawa County Probate and Juvenile Court. The first woman elected to a top judicial office in Ottawa County, Judge Geisler has assisted in getting outpatient treatment for many appearing in her court, rather than incarceration.”
Creating a dynamic board has also been critical for success.
“There are five of us here on the Mental Health and Recovery Board, and we’re busy from the time we get here each morning until the time we go home. We focus on what we can do for people with mental illness and addiction, and are committed to improving the life of individuals in Ottawa and Erie counties,” she said.
There are, however, some things a vote for the Mental Health and Recovery Board levy will not do, emphasized Cronin.
“The levy will not raise taxes. It is a five-year renewal levy continuing to provide $1.9 million in annual funding to ensure mental health and recovery services are readily available,” she said. “The levy will also not raise a homeowner’s tax bill. Since 2014, the cost to a homeowner has been $2.33 per month for a property valued at $160,000.