History of Regional Services
By: Ed Hughes, Chairman of the Board at The Counseling Center
In the last 5 years the state has seen much progress in the way of modernizing and updating the behavioral health care system and philosophy. While the behavioral health redesign has been the largest transformation of the field in some time, Ohio has a rich history of service efforts in the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.
Prior to the creation of The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, there was The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, but prior to that was the Southern Ohio Regional Council on Alcoholism, which operated out of the Ohio Department of Mental Health. The state was divided into these regions and the Scioto County Counseling Center was one of ten counties and agencies within the region. We acted autonomously but were linked in terms of funding, regional planning, training, and compliance.
In 1990 the state created the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services and ended the regional councils. However, because of our long history of cooperation and relationship with those other county agencies, we continue to conduct regional trainings and regular meetings among the various agency directors. In 1991, ODADAS, developed set-aside funding for the development of women’s residential treatment centers throughout the state. This was a competitive funding application. We recognized the need for women’s residential treatment with an additional caveat, that treatment should include a woman’s ability to bring her children into treatment with her, avoiding the common practice of those children going into foster care, or inappropriate family placement. We would also prioritize the admission of pregnant women.
Since it was a competitive application we were concerned that a singular, small county application would not have a chance against agencies in large metro areas. So, we enlisted the support of our regional counties and applied for funding as the Southern Ohio, Multi-County Regional Women’s Program, to be called Stepping Stone House, agreeing that referrals would flow through each of these ten county agencies. We were fortunate to be awarded the grant, which continues to this day. As we know, the program was unique, innovative, and still a one of kind program today. Over time, we did not limit our admissions to just these ten counties because of the tremendous need for these services. This did create the need to expand our program from 16 beds to our current 60, encompassing 24 hours staff supervised housing and transitional living services for these women and their children. Additionally, Stepping Stones offers aftercare to alumni on a total outpatient basis. To date, over 350 drug free babies have been born to women residing at SSH.
With the success of Stepping Stone House, came a recognition of the tremendous value of residential services and our need to offer the same opportunities to men. We followed a similar model of treatment and aftercare which led to a new success in the treatment of men in a residential setting, which in turn attracted referrals from all over the region.
In 1994 we took over the operation of a floundering agency in Adams County and replicated our model there, which has proved very successful. We have created women’s residential services in Lawrence County and are continuing to expand our full continuum of services there.
All of the expansion of services by TCC has been a direct result of the development of innovative, effective, and comprehensive treatment services, which far exceed the services that are available in most communities. Much in the same way people travel from one area to another to seek the medical services they need, addicted people, their families, and referral sources seek the best possible treatment available.
Recently we have begun a planning phase to both centralize and decentralize our services. We will centralize most of basic, entry level services to a main campus location, the former Mitchellace building, creating a one-stop behavioral health services. We will decentralize by creating smaller residential and outpatient facilities in other counties, improving our ability to engage patients in closer proximity to their homes and families, and facilitating longer aftercare opportunities.
The TCC model of services is unique, innovative, and continually expanding in scope in order to accomplish the best outcomes for our patients and their families. This includes the availability of primary health care, vocational training, independent living skill development, and mental health services. We believe these services are the foundation of health care for our patients. One of our goals is for our patients, their families, and for all citizens to see these services as fundamental to successful outcomes for addicted people, free from stigma, and open to the inclusion of recovering people into the mainstream of community life.