The Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board was originally organized in 1969 in response to Ohio State House Bill 648, passed in 1967. This bill established “Community Mental Health Boards” throughout Ohio to develop services within each community that would minimize the need for hospitalization by providing necessary and timely mental health services for most Ohio residents. The law created a partnership between local boards and the Ohio Department of Mental Health. In 1980, Senate Bill 160 updated the duties of boards and added some additional responsibilities and authority.
Unlike other communities, Clermont County had no existing public mental health services and no local funding prior to the passage of the law in 1967. By 1974, several service agencies were established with assistance from the Board, based upon a limited amount of funds from the Ohio Department of Mental Health. In 1981, Clermont County passed a one-half mill mental health levy, which provided a local match and resources that permitted the service system to develop at a more aggressive rate. The local levy was renewed for an additional ten years in 1991 and was replaced in 2000, being reduced to a five year levy.
The Mental Health Act of 1988 (Amended Substitute Senate Bill 156) consolidated all responsibility for patient care under local boards, including inpatient services at state hospitals. Boards were given the responsibility of planning the total system of care and determining the need for state inpatient use. Funds were shifted to community systems, as boards assumed increasing responsibility for the provision of services for residents in their own communities. The result was a significant reduction of state hospital beds and the number of patients, accompanied by a corresponding expansion of services to those individuals in their home communities.
Finally, in 1990, House Bill 317 consolidated alcohol and drug services under local boards as one recovery system in each community. Previously, a separate alcohol treatment system duplicated the drug treatment services for which boards had responsibility. The legislation also created the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. These series of significant laws created the community system as it presently exists.
In addition to traditional outpatient services, the Board supported the development of residential services, vocational services, a comprehensive children’s treatment agency, and a shelter for the homeless. The number of persons served annually expanded from less than 1,000 prior to 1981 to the current level of more than 5,000. With the additional financial resources provided after the Mental Health Act of 1988, the Board has significantly expanded services to severely mentally ill children and adults by adding adult housing and client support systems and by using community hospitals for psychiatric services. The number of Clermont residents in state hospitals at any given time has been reduced from around 30 to an average of three in past years. Clermont County now is recognized in Ohio for its service delivery system and its collaborative relationships with other agencies in the local community.