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MHAS talks treatment, recovery with state senator

Norwalk Reflector - 8/23/2019

Aug. 23--The Huron County Mental Health and Addiction Services board welcomed Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to a roundtable Thursday evening.

Portman, who was in the area for a meeting at NASA, stopped by the MHAS office with literature in-tow about proposed legislation called the 'Combating Meth & Cocaine Act.'

Portman jumped right into discussion about the state of health issues stemming from substance abuse or poor mental health and the resources that could be made available to help in recovery. The room, filled with MHAS board members, county commissioners Terry Boose and Skip Wilde, Fisher-Titus Medical Center staff and from local peer counseling centers and concerned community members, seemed to be in agreement about the need for those services.

What was not agreed with, however, was a statement the senator made connecting perpetrators of violent crimes to sufferers of mental illness.

"99.9 percent of people who struggle with mental health issues are not violent criminals," Portman said. "But it's also obvious -- I think you would agree -- that these people who do these sort of things seem to have mental health issues."

"Talking about mental health we have to be very careful," warned DeeEtte Zimmerman, MHAS board member. "We're blaming a lot of things on mental health issues, including (mass) shootings. We absolutely can not start the stigma ... Absolutely not.

"This is another reason why we need more mental health treatment in the schools," she continued. "I have access to a pediatric doctor and 50 percent of their patients are seen for mental health issues. Not fractures; not lacerations; mental health."

Portman also discussed the stable influence employment plays in someone's life.

"With the drug issue ... A job -- seems to me -- is one of the most important ways to get someone through recovery successfully.

"If someone has some meaning in life ... You know, a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning ... Faith and that are the two things I've found to be what works to help people get through (things like that)" he offered.

"There are people out there (willing to work), we just gotta' get them clean and get them into recovery," Portman added.

Portman said he plans to take some aspects from the discussion to the house floor, with the Combating Meth and Cocaine Act.

For more information about counseling and/or recovery services, contact the MHAS by phone at (419) 668-9858; Firelands Counseling And Recovery at (419) 663-3737.

Huron County Mental Health and Addiction Services is located at 12 Benedict Ave, in Norwalk.


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