The Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, under local leadership, shall plan and make provision for comprehensive mental health and recovery services that are accessible to all residents of Clermont County and shall evaluate the delivery and effectiveness of these services.
The Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board is responsible for all public funds (state, federal, and local) allocated for mental health and addiction treatment and prevention services. Specifically, the Board’s mission is to plan and make provision for comprehensive mental health and addiction services that are accessible to all residents of Clermont County and to evaluate the delivery and effectiveness of these services.
The Board is governed by a volunteer, fourteen-member Board of Directors. Eight members are appointed by the County Commissioners and six by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS); the state agency provides funding to local Boards. Board members determine policies that set a framework for, and guide the direction of, the service system funded by the Board.
The Board periodically reviews the service delivery system to guarantee that it reflects a high-quality continuum of behavioral health care services. The Board seeks to ensure that these services are based on collaborative efforts, utilize innovative approaches, and maximize resources to better meet increasing needs.
By law, the Board itself cannot provide services to clients directly. The Board must contract with service providers, primarily private non-profit agencies, to assure that needed services are provided to residents of the County.
Clermont County has been one of the most rapidly growing counties in Ohio, both in terms of total numbers and growth percentages over the past thirty years. From 1970 to 1980, the population grew from just under 100,000 to about 128,000, an increase of 32%. From 1980 to 1990, there was a 17% increase, bringing the population to roughly 150,000. The population in 2000 was 177,977, a 19% increase; and in 2010, 195,312, almost another 10% growth. By 2020, the population was already at 208,601.
Much of the County’s growth has been concentrated in two western townships adjacent to Hamilton County along I-275. The southeast and northeast portions of the County remain somewhat rural. Over 1,150 miles of highways connect residents. Regional public transit service has improved since the implementation of the Clermont Transportation Connection, but is still limited. Arranging transportation for persons with mental health and addiction problems is frequently difficult.
The rapidly growing population has placed stress on many social and governmental institutions serving the community. Social indicators illustrate these stressors. Rates for DUI/OVI, divorce, and addiction are higher than the state averages. According to the State Highway Patrol, as of 11/29/2021, Clermont County had 588 OVI enforcement stops; the highest in the state. Clermont County was also especially impacted by the opioid epidemic, with overdose rates per 100,000 population among the highest in the country for several years.
The Board is mandated to provide several key duties:
1. Assess the behavioral health needs of Clermont County residents.
2. Plan for delivery of mental health and addiction services in Clermont County to meet the identified needs of our residents.
3. Fund mental health and addiction services.
The current major contract service agencies for the Board include Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (adult mental health services), Child Focus (mental health services for children), and Clermont Recovery Center, a division of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (addiction treatment and prevention services for all ages).
The Board also contracts with local hospitals for psychiatric inpatient services. Over 7,500 clients are served annually, and thousands more participate in prevention programs. Services are provided from multiple locations in the county. Of those who receive services, approximately 1200 are adults with a severe and persistent mental illness, about 1000 are seriously emotionally disturbed children, and 1,500 are individuals of all ages with addiction.
The Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board was originally organized in 1969 in response to Ohio State House Bill 648, passed in 1967. This bill established “Community Mental Health Boards” throughout Ohio to develop services within each community that would minimize the need for hospitalization by providing necessary and timely mental health services for most Ohio residents. The law created a partnership between local boards and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS). In 1980, Senate Bill 160 updated the duties of boards and added some additional responsibilities and authority. Unlike other communities, Clermont County had no existing public mental health services and no local funding prior to the passage of the law in 1967. By 1974, several service agencies were established with assistance from OMHAS, based upon a limited amount of funds from OMHAS.
In 1981, Clermont County passed a one-half mill mental health levy, which provided a local match and resources that permitted the service system to develop at a more aggressive rate. The local levy was renewed for an additional ten years in 1991 and was replaced in 2000, being reduced to a five year levy. A levy renewal was passed in 2006 and 2010. In 2015, Clermont County voters approved a .25 mil increase to the Board’s .50 mil levy, which was then renewed in 2020.
The Mental Health Act of 1988 (Amended Substitute Senate Bill 156) consolidated all responsibility for patient care under local boards, including inpatient services at state hospitals. Boards were given the responsibility of planning the total system of care and determining the need for state inpatient use. Funds were shifted to community systems, as boards assumed increasing responsibility for the provision of services for residents in their own communities. The result was a significant reduction of state hospital beds and the number of patients, accompanied by a corresponding expansion of services to those individuals in their home communities.
Finally, in 1990, House Bill 317 consolidated alcohol and drug services under local boards as one recovery system in each community. Previously, a separate alcohol treatment system duplicated the drug treatment services for which boards had responsibility. The legislation also created the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. This series of significant laws created the community system as it presently exists.
In addition to traditional outpatient services, the Board over the years has supported the development of residential services, vocational services, a comprehensive children’s treatment agency, and a shelter for the homeless. The number of persons served annually expanded from less than 1,000 prior to 1981 to the current level of more than 7,500. With the additional financial resources provided since the Mental Health Act of 1988, the Board has significantly expanded services to severely mentally ill children and adults by adding adult housing and client support systems and by using community hospitals for psychiatric services. State funds to address the opioid epidemic have allowed the development of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), recovery housing, peer support, and employment services for those dealing with addiction. Clermont County now is recognized in Ohio for its service delivery system and its collaborative relationships with other agencies in the local community.
Board funding sources include the local county tax levy (.75 mil) and allocations from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. In addition, the Board has obtained numerous grants over the years. The Board also partners with other local agencies to combine funds and resources to better meet needs. The services provided by these funds allow numerous Clermont County residents to overcome the disability and stigma of mental illness and addiction so they can live and work productively in their own community.
The Board’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022, July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, is approximately $8.5 million. The percentage breakdown of the general sources of these revenues is: 32% from the state, 29% from federal monies, 37% from the local levy, and 2% from other sources. The Board actively pursues grants for un-funded needs, usually in collaboration with its contract agencies and/or other local agencies.
The Board must annually determine what mental health and addiction services are needed in the community and who will provide those services. The majority of the Board’s funds are from state and federal dollars, and must be directed toward services for specific populations and other programs or projects as mandated by the state. Our local levy funds are considered discretionary, in that the Board can determine the best use of those funds, and utilize them for supporting important local initiatives and collaborative projects.