Accepting an invitation from the Mental Health Advocacy Coalition (MHAC), Director Gary Mohr of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction (ODRC) recently traveled to Cincinnati to give the keynote address at the MHAC Members meeting. Prior to the meeting, Mohr made site visits to agencies in Hamilton County and Clermont County to hear about best practices and success stories on inmate reentry programs.
In Clermont County, Director Mohr met with Arlene Herman, Chief Executive Officer of LifePoint Solutions and a number of invited guests from partnering organizations to hear about the Recovery 2 Work program. This collaborative program has been successful in helping clients with opiate addiction problems remain drug free and secure employment. Director Mohr also heard from community stakeholders about other challenges facing people when leaving prison.
Traveling with Director Mohr were top leaders of his staff; Stuart Hudson, Director, Bureau of Medical and Mental Health Services; Tereasa Moorman-Jamison, Chief, Mental Health Services; Chris Yanai, Rentry Administrator; and Tina Patrick, Regional Administrator. In addition to LifePoint Solutions and Talbert House staff members, in attendance at the meeting were; J. Scherra, Executive Director, Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board; Judge James Shriver, Clermont County Municipal Court; e Ellison, Chief Probation Officer, Clermont County Municipal Court; Lutson, Probation Officer, Clermont County Municipal Court; and Mary Brock, Deputy Director, Clermont County Common Pleas Court.
Later in the day, when Director Mohr addressed the crowd at the MHAC Members meeting, he thanked the attendees for the positive steps they are taking to reduce recidivism in Ohio. He discussed issues the ODRC faces regarding mental illness and alcohol and other drug addictions. He also provided an update on how sentencing reform is impacting services received by inmates, length of stay, connection to re-entry services and access to community behavioral health services. And he revealed how the ODRC plans to collaborate with agencies that have reentry programs to begin the reintegration process with eligible inmates.
John Francis, chair of the MHAC said, “Several opportunities exist for building a stronger partnership between MHAC, its member agencies and ODRC, such as: identify and replicate best practices across the state; influencing systemic changes across the various state departments, for example, ODRC and ODMH; building in adequate community supports for inmates before their release; and effective and efficient use of community-based resources.”
With over 120 members statewide, the MHAC fosters education and awareness of mental health issues while advocating for public policies and strategies that provide an effective, well-funded mental health system that serves those in need, resulting in a stronger community.