What About Issue 8, Mental Health Care & CHANGE?

Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, LLC

A Mental Health Moment

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, LLC
The Truth Contributor

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over yet expecting a different outcome.  One of the most difficult steps in receiving mental health care is change.  To make progress an individual has to be willing to make some changes to meet their goals. Change causes discomfort, vulnerability and putting in work.  Change leads to a different outcome, a new perspective and welcomed results.  A new comfort zone is established and improved quality of life is quite welcomed.

As a mental health provider, I hear many stories from clients about the frustrations they incur from previous attempts to receive help. I also answer calls from clients desperate to get help but have no clue where or how to start.  What is most mind boggling is the number of adults who do not understand the importance of mental health mostly due to it never being presented to them as an option to healthcare.  Mental health is health but too often discounted, ignored and separated from healthcare.

The city of Toledo has done a tremendous job in hosting health fairs, health programs and funding many, many non-profit organizations that focus on substance abuse and mental health services with a lot of our tax dollars.  Unfortunately, it is not enough.

Let’s start with the importance of mental health. Without a healthy mind don’t expect a healthy body.  Don’t expect a drop of statistics in the crime rate, school drop outs, overdoses, incarcerations, suicides, child abuse/neglect, homelessness, unemployment or longer life spans just to name a few things.  A child can learn five languages, how to code, conduct scientific experiments, and test perfectly on all the state exams but if that child is unable to control her emotions, understand feelings or express her thoughts due to no knowledge of mental health that child will grow into an adult with sometimes so many mental impairments she will be unable to even keep a job, engage with healthy societal morals and values…..she will not function well if at all.

Prevention has and will always be easier and cheaper than intervention.  While Issue 8 is asking the public to support a mental health and recovery services levy for 1 mil, it also states “it will be used to maintain the current system and address the growing need for support services. It also states expanded services would look to focus on youth, seniors and ‘compassionate’ accountability at the new Lucas County Corrections Center.”  My question is what’s changing?  What are the predicted or forecasted improvements by maintaining the current services? 

The Mental Health Recovery Services Board (MHRSB) lists a great number of service providers that help families and children regarding substance abuse but not many touch on educating communities about mental health.  I was so excited when I clicked on one organization that provides Urgent Care for those in a mental health crisis only to find that their hours of operation are Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Of course, the site also provides phone numbers and hotlines for emergencies but mental health crises usually don’t just occur during the day during the week before 6 p.m.  Other listed services provide parenting courses, workforce development and criminal justice education and support but again there was no mention of mental health or mental health resources such as how to find providers.

Taking a step back, let’s revisit the health fairs commonly held at a library. A plethora of information for managing one’s diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues that plague the Black community at higher statistics….but no mention of mental health care.  Stress, anxiety, depression left unaddressed all lead to health problems.  You can view all of the listed services providers on the MHRSB website https://www.lcmhrsb.oh.gov/service-providers/

As far as insurance to cover mental health care, Lynn Olman, a former Ohio State Representative and currently on the Lucas County Mental Health Services Board, was key in getting mental health as part of medical insurance plans and that was a great victory.  Unfortunately, not all insurance plans are the same so before choosing a plan ask how much is the deductible or co-pay if you seek mental health care.  Some deductibles are as high as $5,000 which means you are responsible for paying the first $5,000 before your plan will cover any mental health care.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I focus on solutions and while, yes, mental health anything should be supported but can we please step out of this comfort zone and try more preventative measures such as putting mental health education in health programs. Can we add a health class in our public schools that teach our children about mental health; I am sure all licensed clinical mental health therapists in this city would be happy to teach that course. How about adding more information and resources on how to get mental health care in primary care offices, medical clinics and urgent cares around the city because I don’t know how many people just randomly check out the MHRSB website.

We say there is a stigma attached to mental health so let’s do something about it and normalize it.  Every billboard, bus stop, Uber, library, school, public and private, religious centers, and what the heck, at this point, even marijuana dispensaries should have information available about mental health.

Take a mental health moment and really think about how much better your physical health could be if your mental health was first addressed. Think about how the crime rate and incarcerations would be lowered if people understood how to handle their emotions, express their feelings and behave accordingly.

When we are not thinking straight or our minds have taken a turn for the worse due to a mental health disorder we can do some pretty damaging acts that there is no coming back from. Receiving mental health while incarcerated is a bit late for everyone involved but mental health care should not be withheld to those incarcerated either because people can and do CHANGE.

As a licensed clinical mental health therapist who has helped thousands of individuals with their mental health, I’m pleading for change. I see and witness the damage caused by unaddressed mental health issues, I see families fall apart, children suffering, and people who wish they were dead as opposed to living with the trauma of their mental health.

I am not here to advise anyone how to vote on Issue 8, I am here to bring awareness and knowledge to those who need help and to those who do have the power to make these changes please consider putting in place changes of this current system not maintain it, otherwise continued damage will continue to the people of this city and the city itself.  Insanity……                    


Bernadette Joy Graham, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist can be reached at 419 409 4929.  www.bjgrahamcounseling.com   Email:  graham.bernadette@gmail.com


If you feel you may be in a mental health crisis, please call 988 or go to the nearest emergency room