Council approves mental health and substance use action plan

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By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

According to the Grove City Division of Police, 95 people overdosed in the city in 2021 and 11 people died from a drug overdose. Statistics also show that police responded to 178 threats of self-harm last year and six people died by suicide.

This is one of the reasons city council recently approved a resolution to accept the Grove City Action Plan to Promote Mental Health and Prevent Substance Use Disorders.

In 2020, council adopted a resolution to form a substance abuse and mental health action plan committee. That committee was formed last year and has met regularly to create this action plan.

The idea of the plan is to “promote a healthy community and provide support to foster the highest quality care and enhance the well-being of all.”

“This is both the finish line and the starting gate,” said councilwoman Christine Houk, who co-chairs the action plan committee. “It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

The action plan is broken up into four priorities – collaboration; education; prevention; and treatment, harm reduction, and support.

The collaboration aspect focuses on improving communication among local providers, first responders, the criminal justice system, the school district, the faith community, and city administration. This could include sharing updates and emergency information, expanding legal options to include recovery resources, and work with first responders to provide support for those experiencing mental health and overdose crises.

The education priority focuses on promoting community-wide mental health awareness and prevention, as well as promoting awareness and intervention regarding substance use. The prevention priority aims to increase resources for prevention efforts. This could include improving early detection of potential mental health disorders, identifying areas of high risk in the city, and supporting drug take-back programs.

The treatment, harm reduction and support aspect aims to engage the community in harm reduction efforts and improve access to and awareness of treatment options. One level of this includes public awareness and access to Naloxone or Narcan. According to the Grove City Division of Police, officers administered 31 doses of Narcan, the opioid overdose treatment, in 2021. The Jackson Township Fire Department administered 125 doses last year.

Sheri Dunagan, an action plan committee member, thanked city leaders for supporting the plan.

“This is meaningful to me and the community,” she said.

Dr. Marie Schiff, with a local eye care facility, said she sees theft in the community and at her place of business. She believes the theft stems from addiction.

“It’s great to see collaborative efforts to get people the help they need,” said Schiff.

Data will be collected on the focus areas to monitor the effectiveness of the action plan. The committee will continue to meet on a regular basis to review data and reassess the greatest areas of need. An annual report will be available to the public.

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