MHRB began behavioral health equity efforts in July of 2019 by hosting the first stop on Recovery Ohio’s minority health listening tour. In partnership with providers, stakeholders and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), MHRB recruited a diverse panel of local experts, including Black community members from Clark, Greene and Madison counties, to share their insights in mental health, addiction and health care. Stephen Massey of Awakenings, LLC of Clark County assited in data gathering, project management and facilitation of several in person and virtual round tables and listening sessions to help us achieve this work.

In June 2020, MHRB adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis and committed to taking meaningful action, with a focus on Black communities in Clark, Greene and Madison Counties. An ad hoc committee of the Board was created to guide the next steps. By December 2021, the Board set aside $231,031 to advance behavioral health equity strategies. The Board also committed to working collaboratively with communities impacted by racism to uncover problem areas and develop data-driven strategies to mitigate the problem areas in the region.

In December 2021, MHRB contracted with the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) to summarize the findings of these community
conversations. The following are key insights from the summary:
• Black community members are not treated with dignity and respect in behavioral health settings, and that affects mental health.
• Respondents described a need for a diverse behavioral health workforce that is trustworthy and understands their experiences.
• Local leaders and providers should reflect the communities they serve.
• Providers should be located in the neighborhood, accessible and part of the community.
Stigma about behavioral health in the Black community needs to be addressed.
Young people struggle the most and need prevention and early intervention.

Drawing upon these qualitative findings, HPIO worked with MHRB to plan the Advancing Equity through Measurement project. The purpose of the project was to provide intensive technical assistance to MHRB staff focused on measuring and improving access to care and mental health and substance use outcomes for Black residents across the life course. The result is a detailed plan with measurable objectives, trend data and plans for improving outcomes.

Advancing Equity Through Measurement Summary

Advancing Equity Through Measurement Full Report & Plan