Ohio report advocates for better funding for mental health supportive services

Mental health care often includes a continuum of services that are crucial to an individual’s full recovery. Beyond addressing mental health symptomology, the mentally ill may also need assistance finding housing or employment, for example, or they may need transportation, crisis intervention or protective services. Unfortunately, not all of these supportive services are reimbursable by Ohio’s Medicaid program. Consequently, programs must choose which services they can fund.  

Two Ohio-based organizations, the Mental Health Advocacy Coalition and The Center for Community Solutions, analyzed state-wide data for non-reimbursable mental health services and have released, “By the Numbers 2: Developing a Common Understanding for the Future of Behavioral Health Care: Analysis of Ohio’s Mental Health Non-Medicaid Spending.” The report recommends: improving service coordination and delivery; better assessing the ability of individual communities to support particular services (e.g., does public transportation meet the needs of the mentally ill?); and an increase in behavioral health funding, reports The News-Herald

Based on the data, the researchers found that housing services comprised about 48 percent of spending on non-Medicaid services. Crisis intervention and employment services followed as the second and third highest in spending.

When these services can not be provided, the alternatives –including hospital and prison–are far more costly to both the individual and society.

Polaris Health Directions’ mental health outcomes assessment system, Polaris-MH, includes screens for vocational and social functioning, as well as for general health problems, substance abuse and resilience, among others. All Polaris systems were designed with the understanding that addressing mental health must go beyond symptomology to help curb the associated long-term health effects and costs.