By Kristy Zurbrick Madison Editor
The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties is placing a renewal levy on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Despite a big increase in demand for services since the levy last passed in 2009, the board is not asking for an increase in taxes. The 0.5-mill levy for Madison County generates $391,000 annually. Residents pay $9.80 per year for every $100,000 of property value.
“While $391,000 will not meet the need, we didn’t want to risk it,” said MHRB CEO Kent Youngman. Other entities will have renewal levies on the fall ballot. The board didn’t want to be the only the entity on the ballot with an increase and, therefore opted to ask for a straight renewal.
MHRB delivers mental health, alcohol and other drug treatment, prevention, education and advocacy services to residents.
Over the last six years, the number of Madison County residents receiving alcohol and drug treatment has nearly doubled, largely due to the opiate epidemic. The number of people receiving mental health services has gone up 30 percent.
“We’re maxing out our capabilities in most areas in the county,” Youngman said.
With drug treatment needs on the rise, Madison County Commissioner Paul Gross asked Youngman if MHRB could put more of its dollars toward prevention efforts. The idea would be to eventually decrease the number of people who need treatment.
Youngman said roughly 92 percent of the board’s funds go toward treatment. The other 8 percent goes toward prevention. Balancing current demand with future prevention within a limited budget is a challenge, he said.
In recent years, though, MHRB has enhanced prevention efforts for both substance use and mental health.
Since 2010, the Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition has provided education and awareness on substance use, focusing mainly on the proper disposal of prescription medications.
The Madison County Depression & Suicide Prevention Coalition has trained approximately 200 members of the public to recognize people who are at risk of or are experiencing a mental health crisis, then connect them to help. The first mental health first aid training took place in February. Another one will be scheduled within the year.
Sixty-eight classrooms serving 1,300 children are using the PAX Good Behavior Game, a strategy through which students learn self-control and how to get along with others. The 120 teachers trained to use the game report increased engagement in learning and dramatic decreases in classroom disruptions and disciplinary issues. The long-term goal is to decrease the likelihood of children dying by suicide, developing addictions, or participating in criminal behavior. The PAX principals have been applied to older children and adults on a community-wide basis, as well.
MHRB also has made new strides on the treatment and recovery side. Since February, residents recovering from opiate addiction now have local access to medication assisted treatment and follow-up care.
Formed in 2014, the London Recovery Project serves as a resource bank for individuals seeking recovery from addiction. Four members are certified peer support specialists, meaning they have been through the recovery experience themselves and are now trained to provide support to others.
The MHRB levy for Madison County was originally passed in 2004 for a five-year term and renewed in 2009 for seven years, expiring at the end of 2016. This time around, the board is asking voters to approve the renewal for a 10-year term.