Vote yes for county mental health levy

If ever there was a time to support a county-wide mental health levy, it’s now.

While the number of overdoses, drug arrests and even suicides may make headlines, many in our community suffer in silence.

Mental health issues and addiction know no boundaries. They afflict young and old, rich and poor and everyone in between. We can all probably name a friend or family member touched by addiction, depression, anxiety or a host of other issues, some of which go hand-in-hand, all of which can be helped by programs and services that would be funded by a mental health levy.

Consider that:

– Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14.

– 1 out of 5 adults is diagnosed with a mental disorder.

– 1 out of 12 adults lives with addiction or substance abuse disorder.

– And of those, fewer than 44 percent of adults, and fewer than 20 percent of children, get the help they need.

A county-wide mental health levy is necessary because past funding for these services no longer is available at levels needed to truly reach the demand. Funding for local programs has been cut by more than 40 percent. That’s why the need for a local mental health levy is ciritcal.

We urge you to support the mental health levy on Tuesday’s ballot.

This five-year levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home just $17.50 a year. The levy would raise $737,000 a year to help cover the cost of treatment and medication for those who need it. Levy money would also be used for early childhood screenings and other programs to help identify people in crisis. It would also help pay for programs offering peer support needed to keep young people in school and get adults back into the work force.

There are indirect benefits of the levy, too. New and additional programs would support the creation of new jobs and help bolster the local tax base. It would also in turn help to lower local rates of unemployment, crime, poverty and hospitalizations.

Of Ohio’s 88 counties, Washington County is one of just 12 which currently does not have a mental health levy. Four times previous requests for a county mental health levy have been denied. But we think our residents deserve better. Vote yes for Washington County’s mental health levy on Tuesday.