The mental health crisis in Cuyahoga County and across Ohio revolves around critical funding challenges that are adversely impacting the community's ability to meet the need for services for thousands of children, adults and older persons with a mental illness.
Insufficient state funding for mental health services is a major factor impacting mental health care for Ohioans. Ohio was 17th in per capita state mental health funding in the fiscal year of 1981; in 2005 it was 37th, and prior to SFY 2009 funding was essentially flat. During SFY 2009, funding for mental health services was cut by over $60 million, resulting in the closure of two state psychiatric hospitals, significant reduction of staff at the Ohio Department of Mental Health, and over $30 million in cuts to community mental health services. In the SFY 2010 - 2011 biennium budget, funding for community mental health was cut by over $100 million. They recently passed SFY 2012 - 2013 budget, which cut more mental health services by decreasing non-Medicaid dollars by $5 million in SFY 2012 and placing caps on the Medicaid benefit package.
Cuyahoga County funding has also not kept up with the increased demand and cost of providing services to those locally. An analysis of Cuyahoga County’s Office of Management and Budget documents show that when 2006 levy funding levels are compared to 2010 levy funding levels, community mental health services funding was decreased by $1.3 million. Cuyahoga County has dedicated less Health and Human Services levy funding to behavioral health services than other large Ohio counties ( Franklin, Hamilton, and Summit) even though Cuyahoga County has a larger population living in poverty. Inadequate resources result in unmet critical needs. A recent needs assessment conducted by The Center for Community Solutions showed that over 27,000 individuals with moderate to severe mental illnesses and over 19,000 with substance dependence or abuse disorders who live under 200% of the poverty line in Cuyahoga County do not receive services in the community behavioral health system.
MHAC works to protect children, transitional youth, adults, older persons and special populations with mental illnesses from discrimination and expand mental health services to address the multiple needs of all consumers. To increase awareness, knowledge and understanding, MHAC advocates for increased education on mental health issues, the integration of mental health into general health care education and practices, and the support of mental health research and its dissemination.
The MHAC's 2009 - 2011 Strategic Goals are:
- Advocate for changes leading to an effective, efficient, and integrated mental health care system locally and statewide.
- Promote diversifying resources to support maintenance and improvements to the current system of mental health services delivery.
- Educate and inform the community and its membership about mental health, mental illness, and other relevant issues and opportunities.
- Develop the infrastructure and resources to ensure effective and efficient operations.