MHRB to seek levy renewal in November

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The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County has voted to seek renewal of a 1-mill levy on the November ballot. The levy currently provides half of the agency's funding for local mental health and substance abuse treatment services as well as 24-hour crisis services.

"It's not too early to start planning because this levy is important to the lives of thousands of residents and families while also being a way to support safe communities," said William Nome of Kent, chairman of the MHRB.

Through the MHRB, funds were made available last year to provide treatment and support services to more than 2,900 children and teens and 4,500 adults in Portage County. The board also funded 24-hour services that handled an estimated 41,000 calls and contacts for suicide prevention, crisis intervention, information and referrals.

"We have a program in every school district to help with students and families who are struggling," Nome said. "We provide training to law enforcement and schools to improve safety. The board's funding for services is an essential part of the safety net in Portage County."

The board also is funding the operation of a new men's residential addiction treatment facility in the county to provide another resource as deaths from opiate addictions continue to increase.

"The renewal is not a tax increase," Nome said.

The original levy was approved by voters in 1983 and replaced in 2003. It costs the owner of a house valued at $100,000 an estimated $29 per year. The board's budget for 2013 is $6 million.

MHRB is a county government agency with the state-mandated responsibility to plan, fund and monitor mental health and substance abuse treatment services for Portage County residents. The board, with a staff of five, contracts with local community-based agencies to provide the direct services, which is how state law structures the operation of mental health and recovery boards in Ohio counties.

The MHRB has contracts with Coleman Professional Services, Townhall II, Children's Advantage and Family and Community Services. The agencies' counselors, case managers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and support staff work with residents seeking services. Residents pay what they can afford for the services with funding from the board sharing in the cost. The board also seeks grants to support services.

Those interested in volunteering for the levy campaign can contact the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 330-673-1756, ext. 207.

To learn more about local mental health and recovery services, go to www.mental-health-recovery.org or follow the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County on Facebook.

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