MANSFIELD — Third Street Family Health Services is exploring a partnership with a mental health provider in Crawford and Marion counties.
An agreement between Third Street and Community Counseling and Wellness Centers (CCWC) will help strengthen the availability of mental health services in the region, the agency stated.
Ohio, like many states, is experiencing an increased need for mental and behavioral care. According to a report by the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers, “Driven by stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid overdose epidemic, demand for mental health and substance use disorder treatment is at an all-time high in Ohio.”
The report states a 353-percent increase in demand for behavioral health treatment between 2013 and 2019, according to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. This trend is expected to increase more in the future. Unfortunately, many mental health services providers, especially those in rural areas, may not keep pace with the continued rise.
“For many years, the reimbursement funding has been out of step with the actual costs for providing this care,” said Third Street CEO Peggy Anderson. “The effects of the pandemic and increased operations costs have enhanced this inequality for many of our rural healthcare facilities.”
Even larger cities are feeling the pinch and some are losing parts of their mental healthcare network. For example, Cleveland’s only 24-hour psychiatric emergency room ceased operations at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in November. Also, University Hospitals Richmond Heights Medical Center closed its behavioral health unit in December.
“Lack of access to mental healthcare can endanger people in need. Without appropriate resources, they may experience severe distress,” said Cindy Wallis, CCWC’s CEO. “This can also leave them more vulnerable to self-harm, violence, or incarceration.”
Strengthening the future
Third Street is a network of community health clinics in Ashland, Crawford, and Richland counties. Community Counseling and Wellness Centers (formerly Community Counseling Services in Bucyrus and Marion Area Counseling Center in Marion) provide affordable mental health services at two locations in Crawford and Marion counties. The two organizations have had a close professional relationship for several years. Third Street has a health center within CCWC’s Bucyrus location. The organizations often exchange referrals to help patients address gaps in their healthcare needs.
A potential partnership would enhance the existing relationship and ensure Crawford and Marion County residents always have access to a strong local mental and behavioral care services network. Further, sharing resources will increase access to care and improve CCWC’s ability to close gaps in care that will benefit rural communities.
“Healthcare providers are better when serving their communities together. It’s better for providers and our patients,” Wallis said. “By aligning with a Federally-Qualified Health Center, such as Third Street, we can continue our mission while strengthening our capabilities.”
More services possible
Both organizations provide mental healthcare and treatment for substance abuse disorders. However, Anderson said Third Street is considering more ways to add to the partnership and expand the programs that it offers to Crawford and Marion counties. For example, Third Street has an in-school clinic in Mansfield and has expertise in providing connection to health and social services support to youth.
“As a provider of comprehensive services, we can offer our support in several areas,” Anderson said. “A partnership is an opportunity to help more patients always connect with the care they need no matter how small their community.”
About Third Street Family Health Services
Third Street Family Health Services was founded in 1994. We are a non-profit community health center that focuses on improving the health of the greater community and removing barriers to wellness. Our mission is to deliver comprehensive health and wellness care that is accessible to all. We provide behavioral health, community health worker, dental, medical, medication-assisted treatment, OB/GYN, pediatric, and podiatry services across 11 locations in northcentral Ohio. For more information, go to www.thirdstreetfamily.org.
About Community Counseling and Wellness Centers
For more than 45 years, Community Counseling and Wellness Centers (CCWC) have provided compassionate mental health care to residents of Crawford and Marion counties. Services focus on the well-being of children, adults, and families challenged with substance use disorders, mental health needs, maintaining and establishing resources such as housing, medication, and healthcare linkage. CCWC is a not-for-profit organization, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and serves those with private insurance and Medicaid. For more information, please visit www.communitycounseling.info.