At any given time, approximately 43 million Americans or about one in five adults suffer from some form of mental illness including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. It has been estimated that serious mental illnesses cost America $192 billion in lost earnings each year. Since 1949, mental health advocates across the United States have observed May as Mental Health Awareness Month as a way to educate the public, advocate for equal treatment of citizens with mental illness, and combat the associated stigma.
There was a time not so long ago when people in our community needing mental health care had to travel to a large metropolitan area for treatment. That began to change in the early 1960s due to the concern of a dedicated English teacher at Chillicothe High School. Frustrated by the lack of services for her students who needed counseling, Martha Cottrill approached the Ross County Mental Health Association for help in addressing the problem. A steering committee was formed, and a contract was sought with the Ohio Division of Mental Hygiene (now known as the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services).
During this time, President Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963. This legislation authorized federal grants for the creation of more than 2,000 community mental health centers across the United States. Over the next few years, local leaders planned and worked diligently to file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary State on May 18, 1965, and a year later on April 6, 1966, the Scioto Paint Valley Guidance Center opened its doors for business. Martha Cottrill’s dream had become a reality.
Today, the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center (SPVMHC) is a vibrant, full-service healthcare provider employing nearly 200 highly-trained credentialed staff members who utilize evidence-based best practices in clinics in five counties: Ross, Fayette, Pickaway, Pike and Highland. During fiscal year 2016, the agency served nearly 9,500 people through a continuum of mental health and substance abuse services available for children and adults.
For many clients, a one-on-one counseling program is effective. For the persistently mentally ill population, extended group sessions (partial hospitalization) are provided at each site, and case managers travel into the community to work with some clients in their own home environments. An intensive outpatient counseling (IOP) program is available to address addiction problems, and a Crisis Line is available round the clock for anyone in need of emergency interventions. The Floyd Simantel Clinic in Ross County is a 24/7 residential treatment center that provides a sanctuary and respite care for seriously mentally ill persons who are at-risk of full hospitalization or homelessness. This clinic is a dual-use facility certified for the treatment of both mental illness and addictions.
The agency provides additional support services which include a separate transportation company to ensure that approximately 300 patients daily are able to get to get to and from medical and counseling appointments. SPVMHC works closely with local court systems and provides prevention programs designed to discourage bullying and substance use/abuse to local school districts. In 2014, SPVMHC opened an integrated primary care program in Ross County where a physician’s assistant and a nurse practitioner are on staff to treat patients’ physical health needs and coordinate overall care in a single, convenient location.
Later this year, the agency plans to open an on-site pharmacy at its Ross County Clinic for the convenience of clients and staff with itinerant medication coordinators who will provide pharmacy services to clinics in the other counties as well. Recently, the agency began offering psychiatric services and medication management via telemedicine. This enables patients to interact with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner in their home community without the burden of a long drive.
For more information about mental health or substance abuse issues, contact your local clinic at 740-335-6935. If you or a loved one are in need of emergency help, a crisis line volunteer can be reached at any time at 740-335-7155. Though the agency was incorporated more than 50 years ago, it strives to remain relevant to the communities it serves. Visit it on the web at www.spvmhc.org.