The House of Hope and other services

This month’s article is on an important tool in recovery for people with mental illness. Consumer operated services as defined by the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 5122-29-16 are “?any service or activity that is planned, developed, administered, delivered, and evaluated by persons, a majority of whom are receiving or have received inpatient mental health services or other mental health services of significant intensity and duration.”

The Ohio Consumer Operated Services (COS) Tool Kit published by the Ohio Consumer Operated Services Association is a document that provides tools to develop or enhance new or existing COS or Peer Support Services (PSS). The tool kit divides Consumer Operated Services into 3 tiers. They are Tier 1 Self Help, Tier 2 Partnership, and Tier 3 Independent. Tier 1 (Self Help) has the lowest level of funding, staffing, and programs. They are not certified and may have financial and administrative decisions made by an outside agency. Second tier (Partnership) organizations have funding between $100,000-$400,000 and make their own programmatic, administrative, and financial decisions. They may have a community mental health agency as their fiduciary. 90-95% of their funding comes from their local ADAMH (Alcohol Drug Abuse and Mental Health) Board. They may not be certified. These organizations provide more services and programs than first tier organizations. Third tier (Independent) organizations provide the highest level of programs. Their funding is in excess of $400,000 and comes from multiple sources. They are independent of outside agencies, and have the administrative skills to operate their own programs.

In Washington County we have a peer support center/club house called the House of Hope. It is located on County House lane across the road from the Count Home. The House of Hope can best be described as a first tier organization. They do make their own programmatic, financial, and administrative decisions. The House of Hope provides important services that include peer support and social activities. They have a resource library. They arrange transportation to conferences on peer support and mental health recovery. They take day trips as a group for recreation and learning experiences, and most importantly provide a facility where people with mental illness can gather without the judgment and stigma they face in their every day lives in the community at large. The Magnolia House in Cleveland is the only certified Tier 3 club house in Ohio. They provide a wide array of services, These services include but are not limited to health and wellness, advocacy and governance, social activities, transitional employment opportunities (through community partnerships), independent employment, supported education (GED through graduate school), and psychiatric and primary care services through the Carriage House Clinic. They also run an upscale resale shop and art gallery called Bloomin’.

The types of services provided by the Magnolia House are not inexpensive; their budget is in excess of $1,000,000. Their ADAMH Board provides only 38% of their funding. The rest comes from other sources such as club house income and dues; foundation grants; contract services. The benefits of the services provided are hard to understate. With this broad array of services they are able to provide fulfilling activities and training to people with mental illness as well as transitioning people with mental illness back to full employment as productive citizens. In addition to this they provide people with mental illness with vital supports and treatment.

The Washington County Behavioral Health Board does not have the funds to support the House of Hope in the way that the Magnolia House is funded. I believe that through community partnerships and support the House of Hope could provide more services to the mentally ill. This chronically underserved segment of our population needs and deserves our support.

Washington County also has a NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) Connections peer support group that Provides peer support following for individuals with diagnosed mental illnesses. This group is based on NAMI’s Connections criteria.

Brett Nicholas is a member of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board and Chairman of the Public Information and Education Committee. Behavioral Health Matters appears on the Opinion page of the Marietta Times on the last Saturday of the month.

Miriam R. Keith is Consumer Support Coordinator, Washington County Behavioral Health Board.