TROY — What began as a year-long reflection on the 50-year history of the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services ended looking to the future of behavioral health services in Miami, Darke and Shelby counties.
”The roots can be traced much earlier, but it became a three-county Board in 1968, when Shelby and Darke County Commissioners appointed members to join the Miami County Board of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, which had formed in November 1967 in response to Ohio law establishing community-based mental health boards,” said Executive Director Mark McDaniel.
His report continues:
In 1980, county mental retardation boards were established by state law and the focus of the Tri-County Board of Mental Health narrowed. But in 1989, a new state Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services was created, and the Board changed its name to the Tri-County Board of Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services to reflect the extended responsibilities. The name changed again to Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services to be more concise, inclusive and recovery-positive.
One of the chief proponents of the name change was Marianne Helmlinger, a Sidney resident, educator and tireless advocate for the rights and dignity of persons with mental illness. Helmlinger passed away in September at the age of 92, having served 20 years on the board, the second longest tenure of the 137 individuals who have served on the board.
Recently, the board has focused on providing a robust infrastructure for behavioral health services. The importance of safe, stable housing to successful recovery led the board and its partner agency, Community Housing of Darke, Miami and Shelby Counties, to seek Ohio Recovery Housing certification of men’s and women’s recovery homes located in Sidney and Troy.
The certification provides assurance that the homes are operated safely and accountably. Both facilities provide 24-hour awake staff including recovery coordinators, an on-site manager and peer recovery coordinators. The homes are available to residents of all three counties.
Safe and accountable housing is also the aim of STAR House, the Sheriff’s Transitional and Recovery House currently under construction adjacent to the Shelby County Jail. A partnership of the board, the sheriff’s office, Shelby County Commissioners, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, STAR House is expected to open in spring 2019. It will provide supervised housing and treatment for up to 20 individuals transitioning out of jail, and will oversee treatment plans and establish support services in an effort to reduce recidivism.
In November, Ohio Senator Rob Portman visited the STAR House construction site and held a community roundtable on innovative approaches to the opioid crisis. He praised the collaborative nature of the project involving behavioral health, law enforcement and the courts.
Innovative service delivery is also the driver behind the One Wellness Place project. The board has been raising funds and developing plans to build a 50,000-square-foot facility on County Road 25A north of Troy. The facility will house mental health and addiction service providers, public health, and wrap-around support service agencies, including the Tri-County Board and Community Housing administrative offices. Construction will begin in 2019.
As 2018 closed, the board was looking to the future, as I announced my plan to retire in June 2019 after 20-plus years in that position. The board in December voted to hire Terri Becker, associate director and chief financial officer, as the board’s eighth executive director effective July 1. They are working together to ensure continuity in executing the board’s mission to plan, fund, and evaluate mental health and recovery services in Miami, Darke and Shelby counties.