Archive by category: PreventionReturn

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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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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State agencies encourage older adults, families, to take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services encourage all Ohioans to take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Locations around the state will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accept pills for proper disposal. The service is free and anonymous.

“Keeping medications past their usefulness can be dangerous because time can change how some medications work,” said Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “Medications that you no longer take or that have passed the expiration date on their labels should be disposed of promptly and properly.”

“Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by removing unused medications from your home,” added Ursel J. McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “National Prescription Take-Back Day provides a convenient and safe way to do so.”

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.

Further, methods traditionally used to dispose of drugs, such as flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, can pose potential safety and health hazards.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and is held twice each year. Visit to find a collection site near you. Sites will accept most pills and patches. They cannot accept liquids or needles.

If you are unable to visit a collection site on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the departments recommend these tips for safe disposal:

  • Contact your pharmacy. Tell your pharmacist the name of the medications that you wish to dispose of and ask about the most appropriate means of disposal;
  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the package or Drug Facts labels of non-prescription medications;
  • Do not flush any medications down the sink or toilet or throw them in the trash unless the package or your doctor or pharmacist specifically instructs you to do so;
  • For medications that can be thrown in the trash, mix them with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds, then place the mixture into a sealable bag, bottle or container;
  • Do not crush tablets or capsules that will be thrown in the trash; and
  • For medications that cannot be flushed or thrown in the trash, check with local pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, or trash and recycling providers about medication disposal guidelines and options such as drop boxes in your community.

Visit for additional medication tips and resources for older adults.

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Ohio “Tobacco 21” Law Takes Effect Oct. 17

Ohio’s new “Tobacco 21” law takes effect on Thursday, Oct. 17, raising the age to purchase cigarettes, other tobacco products, and alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and vaping products from 18 to 21. It will also become illegal to give such products to others under age 21. The types of tobacco and alternative nicotine products covered by the new law include cigarettes; electronic smoking devices such as vapes, e-cigarettes, and tanks; cigars; pipe tobacco; chewing tobacco; snuff; snus; dissolvable nicotine products; filters, rolling papers, pipes, blunts, or hemp wraps; liquids used in electronic smoking devices whether or not they contain nicotine; and vapor products – any component, part, or additive that is intended for use in an electronic smoking device, a mechanical heating element, battery, or electronic circuit and is used to deliver the product. Tobacco products and alternative nicotine products do not include products such as nicotine replacement therapy for use when quitting tobacco and other nicotine products.

The law requires retailers to post a sign indicating that it is illegal to sell tobacco and alternative nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21. A clerk who sells tobacco and alternative nicotine products to a person under 21 and the owner of the retail establishment may face criminal penalties that increase after the first violation under Ohio’s Tobacco 21 law. For a first offense, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, a clerk is subject to no more than 30 days in jail and a fine up to $250, and the retail establishment is subject to a fine of $2,000.

For more information about Ohio’s Tobacco 21 law, go to or call the toll-free hotline at 1.855.OHIO.T21 (1.855.644.6821). The Ohio Department of Health’s Ohio Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW offers free resources, including non-judgmental quit coaches for quitting tobacco and vaping products.

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