Mental health options discussed during Rotary meeting

STEUBENVILLE – Options for citizens of Jefferson County suffering from mental health or addiction issues was discussing during the Friday luncheon meeting of the city Rotary Club at the city YWCA.

Pam Petrella, executive director of the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board, described the government agency’s function in offering options for mental health care for county residents. Petrella said the agency contracts with other outside agencies to provide services ranging from housing of those unable to attend to their own affairs to drug addition treatment and counseling.

“Jefferson Behavioral Health System is our largest (contracted provider),” said Petrella, adding the prevention and recovery board includes 18 board members and obtains funding from the state and other sources. “JBHS also provides much of our (clients’) housing.”

Petrella said finding housing for clients was important, as some clients have nowhere to live or have “burned bridges” with their families. She also said the agency was opening a crisis stabilization program for clients who may be seeking treatment but not requiring hospitalization.

“We want to get (clients) back in the community and functioning,” said Petrella. “(This program) will bring great benefits to Jefferson County.”

Petrella also said the county offers a wide array of services for those suffering from mental illness or addiction issues. She added heroin also has become a major problem in Jefferson County and the state.

“We’re very lucky to have many local services,” she said. “There isn’t as much stigma attached to (mental health issues) as in the past.

“Jefferson County is one of the 20th highest counties in Ohio for death rates from opiates,” she continued. “This is a major problem in our area and an epidemic in Ohio. We’re part of the ‘Heroin Highway.'”

Petrella said heroin was cheap and relatively easy to purchase on the street. She added depression was another problem among many in Jefferson County.

“People do recover, and we see it every day,” she said.

Sheeposh said Jefferson Behavioral Health System had a $6.5 million annual budget.

“We are a private, non-profit agency,” he said, adding there are more than 60 health care professionals in the system. “We have four major locations.”

Sheeposh said the agency currently has 2,955 active clients, and “our caseloads have increased tremendously.” He added the agency is certified and has a 24-hour helpline, at (740) 264-1627.

“Our major mission is to help (a client) lead a better life,” he said. adding the agency offers services for drug and alcohol issues, mental health counseling, psychiatric services and group or one-on-one counseling. “Our overall goal is to stabilize people quickly and get them back in the community. We also offer services to the youth in Jefferson County.”

Sheeposh said the agency also works with schools to give pupils and students access to mental health services. The agency also has expanded to offer housing opportunities for clients, he added.