Montgomery County Commissioners Announce Task Force To Address Behavioral Health

Area emergency departments have seen a 26 percent increase in behavioral health issues, prompting Montgomery County Commissioners to take action to address this growing need.

The County Commissioners are working with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) to create a Behavioral Health Task Force comprised of healthcare providers, leaders and community partners. This will allow the Commissioners to meet with them monthly from January to July to better understand their challenges and needs and develop solutions to help improve services.

The ideas generated from these monthly discussions will help guide leaders and decision-makers on where resources should be deployed.

"We're looking forward to learning more about the specific challenges we face in our behavioral health system and how we can ensure residents get the appropriate care they need," said Commission President Debbie Lieberman.

Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County's 2022 Community Health Assessment shows in the past year, the percentage of people who have had serious thoughts of suicide has been increasing among all age groups. Overdose deaths are also on the rise.

"We know from the number of overdose deaths in our County that we have people in a substance abuse crisis," said Commissioner Judy Dodge. "We must do more than we have been, and I'm hopeful the work we do with GDAHA and these other agencies will help people put their addiction behind them."

GDAHA reports an 8.6 percent increase in substance abuse, and nearly 20% of patients who receive care at an emergency department for behavioral health needs or substance use disorder are treated two or more times.

"Our County has faced enormous challenges in the past few years," said Commissioner Carolyn Rice. "On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had other significant events like the tornadoes, and the Oregon District mass shooting, that brought people into our hospitals in search of behavioral health care and substance abuse treatment."

The County Commissioners want to ensure the behavioral health system is supported, whether that be our health care providers, judicial system, social services or treatment centers.

"This is a social issue we can't ignore. It impacts the health and safety of all our residents," said Michael Colbert, Montgomery County Administrator. "To see our Commissioners put this plan into action and make this a priority shows they’re committed and open-minded to finding solutions to navigate the mental health crisis."

Haley Carretta, Director of Montgomery County Strategic Initiatives, said the Commissioners know it will take a community effort.

"This partnership aims to be the collaboration that leads to better care and lifesaving solutions," said Carretta. "The County is grateful to have GDAHA's support and to join forces with agencies who understand this initiative's importance."

GDAHA is made up of 29 western Ohio hospitals and health organizations that work together to ensure quality health care in our region.

"Together, we addressed the challenges of COVID-19," said Sarah Hackenbracht, President and CEO of GDAHA. "We all want what's best for our community, and right now, we see behavioral health as one of the most pressing issues for citizens of Montgomery County."