Archive by author: Angela ScarlettReturn

July is Minority Health Awareness Month

Anyone can experience mental health challenges regardless of their background. 

However, a person’s racial, ethnic, or cultural identity can shape and exacerbate these challenges in varying ways and make accessing mental health treatment much more difficult. The Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008 to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the United States and the reasons why these differences exist.

Systemic Racism

Racism is believed to contribute to mental health disorders by creating negative stereotypes that members of the stereotyped groups internalize, resulting in lowered self-esteem. It may further contribute by enabling discrimination which results in lower socioeconomic status and poorer living conditions in which poverty, crime, and violence are persistent stressors that can affect mental and physical health.


Individuals from certain racial/ethnic minority groups have shorter lifespans and higher incidences of many chronic physical disorders. Those who have both a mental and a physical disorder (comorbidity) are more likely to have their mental disorder missed or misdiagnosed because physical disorders tend to be prioritized by physicians. Even if their mental disorder is recognized and treated, people with comorbid disorders experience more drug interactions and side effects, given their higher usage of medications. 

Genetic and lifestyle differences

There is a growing body of research on subtle genetic differences that influence how medications are metabolized in certain populations. Similarly, lifestyle factors which include diet, rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and use of alternative or complementary treatments can interact with drugs to alter their safety or effectiveness.

Social Stigma and mistrust

Described by a U.S. Surgeon General’s report as the "most formidable obstacle to future progress in the arena of mental illness and health,” the term refers to negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate people to fear, reject, avoid and discriminate against those with a particular condition. Stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness held by members of minority groups have been shown to be more pronounced than those held by Whites. And a persistent, historically based mistrust of the health care system on the part of certain racial/ethnic minority groups plays a role.

Lack of understanding

Lack of cultural understanding by health care providers may contribute to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people from other racial/ethnic groups. Factors that contribute to these kinds of misdiagnoses include language differences, differences in the way mental disorders present across populations and subconscious biased beliefs held by clinicians about certain groups regarding aggression, intelligence, laziness, and other variables. 

Financial barriers

Compared with Whites, non-elderly members of minority groups were less likely to carry private health insurance. Even among those with insurance, the cost of deductibles and copayments, lack of transportation, lack of childcare, and inflexible work schedules often prohibit mental health care. However, the role of Medicaid in covering mental health care has increased in recent years.

OhioMHAS, in alignment with Gov. Mike DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative, is committed to creating a system to help make treatment available to all Ohioans in need. One strategy is to prioritize the ongoing development culturally competent, evidence-based practices that are targeted to and appropriate for all of Ohio’s residents in need of services. Another strategy is to purposefully recruit a larger and more culturally competent behavioral health workforce that is reflective of the diversity in our communities. 

Read tips for finding culturally competent mental health services.

Locate mental health services in your area.

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Psychiatric Hospitals Limit Visitation

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) values our patients’ visitors, and the role they play in recovery and wellness of their loved one. Please be advised, that Governor Mike DeWine confirmed on March 9, 2020,  Ohio’s first positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Ohio. The Governor signed Executive Order 2020-01D, declaring a state of emergency to protect the well-being of Ohioans. Over the past couple of days the situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to evolve and now includes cases of individuals who have not traveled to an impacted area being diagnoses with the having the virus. For more information on the evolving A sign in front of a house

Description automatically generatedsituation with COVID19 please visit:, or call: Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).


In response to the Governor’s most recent recommendations, OhioMHAS is limiting access to our facilities across Ohio the state’s six regional psychiatric hospitals by prohibiting outside visitation.  At this time, telephonic visitation can occur as we finalize technology to assist with further visitation options. Outside contractors and vendors that are mission critical will be granted access to the hospital after they have been screened. 


The health and safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. We are committed to efforts to prevent the spread of the virus while ensuring continuity of care for those who OhioMHAS serves.

Please know that these safety measures have been put in place as a means of protection and are not meant to isolate or limit communication with patients. Rest assured OhioMHAS staff will work diligently to incorporate the use of technology to maintain and facilitate communication between patients and their families and guardians.


In addition, we have increased the cleaning schedules at the hospitals, and staff are encouraging all people who enter the hospital to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, and to use the hand sanitizer provided in the reception areas. These safety measures will be reassessed daily.


Practice Preventative Measures

Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Call before visiting your doctor.

Clean and disinfect “high touch” surfaces often.


Information on the Coronavirus in Ohio is evolving daily. State and local governments are working to ensure Ohioans have access to up to date information. If you have questions or would like additional information and resources, we urge you to use the Ohio Department of Health’s call center to get answers to specific questions regarding COVID-19. Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), or visit


For information and resources for maintaining behavioral health during this uncertain time and to stay up to date on OhioMHAS actions related to the virus, please visit:, or visit the OhioMHAS home page at: and click on Managing Cornonavirus-related stress at the top of the page.

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Registration is now open: Seventh Annual Trauma Informed Care Summit

Registration is now open:


Seventh Annual Trauma Informed Care Summit

May 19 and 20, 2020


Added feature: Pre-Conference Learning Communities

May 18, 2020


Registration is now open for the TIC Summit.  New this year, we have added a Pre-Conference Day on May 18, 2020  designed for participants to experience a day-long deeper dive into the following focus areas:

  • Get Well! Be Well! Stay Well! Families, Youth and Resiliency
  • Early Childhood Trauma
  • Secondary trauma and Workforce Crisis: Self-Care Solutions
  • Intersection of Trauma and Health
  • Student Wellness and Success
  • Working with Veterans
  • Family Informed Trauma Treatment
  • Trauma and Marginalized Populations


Registration is available at:


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Governor DeWine Announces Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement


Governor Mike DeWine

March 2, 2020

Dan Tierney: 614-644-0957
Breann Almos: 614-644-0957

Governor DeWine Announces Early Childhood Mental Health Credential

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced the launch of Ohio’s new Infant Mental Health Credential for early childhood professionals, the first of its kind in the state. This credential provides professional development to support the social-emotional needs of Ohio’s youngest children. Early childhood professionals who hold this credential will have met the state’s minimum core standards.

 “When children are young, they are building the foundation for the rest of their lives. It’s important that we ensure they have the emotional and behavioral skills to succeed,” said Governor DeWine. “This new credential guarantees that those early childhood professionals have specialized skills and training to help young children reach their best possible wellness.”

Applications are being accepted through the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association. Early childhood system professionals working in the following categories may apply:

  • Child Care
  • Early Learning
  • Home Visiting
  • Community Health
  • Early Intervention
  • Maternal Health
  • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
  • Primary Health
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Any Additional Allied Health Professionals

For more information on Ohio’s Infant Mental Health Credential, please visit

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Governor DeWine Joins State Leaders to Announce First-Ever, Collaborative Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio


February 28, 2020

Dan Tierney: 614-644-0957
Breann Almos: 614-644-0957

Governor DeWine Joins State Leaders to Announce First-Ever, Collaborative Suicide Prevention

Plan for Ohio

(DAYTON, Ohio)—In response to an uptick in the number of deaths by suicide, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today joined with Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss and leadership from the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to introduce the first-ever, collaborative Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio that will direct the state’s suicide prevention efforts over the next three years.

“I can’t think of anything more gut-wrenching for a family than losing someone to suicide. In Ohio five people a day die by suicide, and a youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. These are sobering statistics and it will take all of us working together to make an impact and reduce the number of deaths by suicide across the state. One of the goals of my RecoveryOhio initiative is to address mental health and other issues that lead to death by suicide.  While the RecoveryOhio’s Initial Report offered preliminary recommendations that begin to address suicide, The Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio that we are releasing today furthers the conversation. It is meant to guide discussions and strategies among advocates, health partners, and state agencies as we work to prevent suicide,” said Governor DeWine.

“As a first step to further our shared vision, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working with the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and its members to develop a partnership with primary care and behavioral health providers, schools, parents, caregivers, and other community allies to increase suicide prevention and intervention practices,” said Director Criss. “Ultimately, this work will bring about a system-wide commitment to reduce suicides, build a competent, caring workforce, and reach all youth at-risk of suicide to get them the support and treatment they need.”

Under the direction of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes evidence-based suicide prevention practices, the plan was written by a group of 33 Ohioans from the public and private sectors who have professional or personal experience with suicide. The plan directs energy, focus, and resources to implement specific goals and objectives. These objectives were informed by data, evidence-based approaches, and lessons learned from current practice.

Among the plan’s priorities, the state will:

  • Raise awareness of the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.
  • Concentrate efforts on integrating suicide prevention practices into health care, public safety, and education services on the local and state levels.
  • Build suicide prevention capacity and infrastructure at the organizational, local, and state levels.
  • Focus prevention efforts on groups identified as having higher rates of suicide, including youths ages 10-24, males ages 25-59, and veterans and military members.
  • Standardize, gather, and utilize data to continuously inform and evaluate the state’s approach.

“The Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio was created so that all communities can see their role in suicide prevention, while suggesting specific goals to give benchmarks to the community,” said Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. “The plan promotes local cooperation that focuses on preventing suicide.  As more partners collaborate, we work to break down the stigma that surrounds the subject of suicide.”

In November 2019, the Ohio Department of Health released its 2018 Ohio Suicide Demographics and Trends Report, which contained the sobering news that five Ohioans die by suicide every day, and one youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. Nationally, U.S. suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 to access the Active Duty/Veterans Crisis Line) to speak with a trained counselor. Ohioans can also text the keyword “4hope” to 741 741.


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Bucci Named CEO at Heartland Behavioral Healthcare

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Andrea M. Bucci as Chief Executive Officer at Heartland Behavioral Healthcare (HBH). Bucci has been employed in the state hospital system since 2003. Most recently, she served as the Chief Operating Officer at HBH for nine years. She has a background in business administration with degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Youngstown State University. As CEO, she will oversee approximately 250 employees and be responsible for the well-being, care and treatment of 132 patients at the Massillon hospital. HBH serves residents from 11 Ohio counties: Ashland, Carroll, Columbiana, Holmes, Mahoning, Medina, Richland, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, and Wayne. 

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