LJ Cunningham

The State of Mental Health Care in Ohio

Racism is a public health crisis. Ohio legislature that cuts mental health care and education programs is dangerous for everybody.

Post Published: January 20, 2023

Since 2020, numerous local and state mental health organizations in Ohio have declared racism a public health crisis. Over the past three years, politicians have drastically cut funding for valuable mental health care services in Ohio. That’s a problem.

Ohio County Cuts in Mental Health Care Services

Many mental health and drug and alcohol treatment programs in the U.S. receive funding through local levies and State and Federal funding. Throughout 2000–2022, Franklin County Ohio, where the State Capital of Columbus sets, received millions of dollars in funding from various sources.

Despite garnering funds through some major headline-grabbing infusions of cash, the Franklin County Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Board closed the only 24-hour walk-in mental health treatment center in the county in November, 2022.

NetCare Access is piloting a program with social workers chosen specifically from “community health centers.” The program will also use cops to sometimes respond to crisis calls (during specific hours). NetCare Access is broadening the hours during which social workers respond to mental health crises calls. However, 911 still routes the calls, which can involve police.

The problem is Ohio has funding for mental health care. But Ohio politicians aren’t using those funds in a safe way that actually improves mental health for residents.

  • screenshot from the NetCare Access IG page. Image is in shades of blue and reads in big, dark blue bold lettering: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. In much smaller lettering is the web address www.netcareaccess.org the post reads: NetCare's on-site crisis services have permanently closed as of 8:00 pm this evening. For immediate assistance with mental health and substance use concerns, call 614-276-CARE. For immediate assistance with medical concerns, including overdose, call 911.
  • Post from the NASW Ohio IG page alerting Ohio social workers to legislation on ohio house bill 509-introduced to allow those who have a degree in something other than social work work as a social worker
  • From the NASW Ohio Instagram: image is bright red thick border. inside is a red triangle with a black exclamation point. text reads: critical advocacy alert to protect social work practice. logo for NASW Ohio in blue beneath

Statewide Legislative Attacks on Licensed Professionals

Recently, the NASW Ohio Chapter alerted the public to Ohio HB 509. This bill extends “social worker” tasks to people who aren’t licensed social workers.

Sarah Fowler-Arthur (R-Ashtabula) sponsors this bill. Fowler-Arthur is a homeschool graduate and local Third Reich enthusiast. She made international news this year, proposing a disturbing addition to public school curriculums.

A smiling selfie of Sarah Fowler-Arthur, an Ohio politician with an irresponsible position on mental health care funding & services.
Know your public enemy: Sarah Fowler-Arthur DOESN’T care about public health or Ohioans’ mental health. Fowler-Arthur is pictured here as part of the wedding party of my cousin Jason Keeler, and his wife Christina in 2019.

‘Well, obviously the German government was right in saying that the Aryan race is superior to all other races, and therefore that they were acting rightly when they murdered hundreds of thousands of people for having a different color of skin,’”

 – Fowler Arthur to reporter Morgan Trau,  May, 2022. You can read more about that here.

I’ve written before that Ohio House Bills 454 and 616 are unnecessary government intrusion. Both cut into citizen’s access to valuable mental health, education, and medical care. Ohio House Bill 509 is just as dangerous as other Republican-introduced bills. In late 2022, Sarah Fowler Arthur introduced an amendment to HB 509 that would allow for hires in the role of social workers, without a degree in social work.

Direct Action Will Preserve Our Mental Health Care

Fortunately, direct action from NASW Ohio stopped this horrific piece of legislation from being included in HB 509. This protects the rights of Ohio social workers. Ohio Residents DESERVE adequate public mental health care funding and resources. It’s up to us to stay on top of power-crazed politicians, who don’t respect equality. It’s up to us to support organizations that advocate for our liberties, and safety.




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