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Carruthers Highlights Legislation to Improve Response to Mental Health and Drug Crises

March 17, 2022
Sara P. Carruthers News

COLUMBUS – Wednesday, the Ohio House Behavioral Health and Recovery Committee reported out two key pieces of legislation, House Bill 468 and House Bill 328, to better support Ohioans battling drug addiction and mental health crises. 

“Many of the issues that come across the committee demand proactive solutions rather than reactive solutions,” said Chairwoman of the Committee, State Representative Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton). “I believe the legislation reported out this week will produce critical resources to help struggling Ohioans on their paths to recovery before more serious intervention has to take place.” 

H.B. 468 would create the federally mandated 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Hotline. 

Currently, there are multiple crisis hotlines Ohioans can call if they are struggling with mental health. 9-8-8 would be a single resource to streamline assistance for a variety of mental health conditions. 

The hotline administration would operate under the Department of Mental Health and Addiction and be responsible for: 

·         Working with local jurisdictions 

·         Submitting an annual report

·         The collection and disbursement of funds 

·         Coordinating with the Veterans Crisis Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Program to ensure consistent public messaging 

Crisis centers must be established in their perspective localities by July 16, 2022. 

The Committee also cleared H.B. 328, which aims to establish the Governor’s Office of Drug Policy. Under the bill, the Office would be tasked with various responsibilities to better address drug addiction in Ohio.

Lawmakers recognized the need for the legislation in light of recent statistics from Recovery Ohio, who reported a 24% increase in drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. 

An executive director of the office will be appointed by the governor, and other staff as necessary. 

H.B. 468 and H.B. 328 now await votes on the Ohio House Floor.