As part of a statewide show of gratitude to frontline workers who confront the opioid epidemic, the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board is leading Lorain County’s efforts for the First Responders Week of Appreciation, September 20-26, 2020.
MHARS Board thanks First Responders for “Bringing Help, Bringing Hope”
“This year, first responders are battling an opioid epidemic, within a global health pandemic,” said Elaine Georgas, Interim Director of the MHARS Board. “First responders are devoted to healthy outcomes on all fronts, and should be lauded for their continued selfless commitment to helping people who need opioid and addiction care.”
The National Institutes of Health called the opioid epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic a “collision of public health crises.”
Jinx Mastney, Opioid Response Outreach Coordinator for the MHARS Board, convened partners throughout the community to write thank-you notes, deliver gifts, issue proclamations of support, and promote the “Bringing Help. Bringing Hope. Thank You.” theme of the Week of Appreciation, during September’s National Recovery Month.
The statewide team identifies children’s services workers, EMTs, emergency department staff, 9-1-1 dispatchers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, behavioral health workers, and “anyone else who may experience burnout or secondary trauma as a result of their work with individuals with addiction” during the Week of Appreciation.
The MHARS Board supports successful interactions between first responders and members of the community who are in distress by offering trainings on solving challenges related to mental illness and substance abuse. Opioid response staff organizes 24 hours of training for front-line crisis professionals each year. The MHARS Board has provided more than 200 local first responders from 15 public safety departments with Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, sponsored 78 officers in Trauma Informed Policing, and hosted sessions with an internationally acclaimed expert in trauma and high-stress workplaces. Also, the MHARS Board funds Quick Response Teams of a police officer and behavioral health clinician to visit overdose survivors with the goal of engaging individuals to seek treatment, and funds mobile response teams to support crisis calls throughout Lorain County.
Local Week of Appreciation efforts are sponsored by the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Their statement reads:
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of frontline workers, Ohio has seen a decrease in deaths involving heroin in recent years. However, we are still facing an addiction and overdose epidemic like never before and Ohio’s frontline workers need our continued support. The Week of Appreciation is an opportunity to show support and appreciation to those who work directly with individuals struggling to overcome substance use disorders.”
To learn more about how to help a loved one in active addiction or recovery, visit mharslc.org/recovery. The Addiction Helpline is available at 440-989-4900.
The MHARS Board is the behavioral health authority that plans, funds and monitors mental health and addiction services in Lorain County.