The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville (the Foundation) continued its partnership with the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (317 Board), recently approving funding awards for programs focused on youth resiliency and social emotional learning.

Since 2012, the Foundation and 317 Board have approved funding awards totaling over $1.4 million to behavioral health providers in Athens, Hocking and Vinton counties. Outcomes to date include new partnerships developed among primary care and behavioral health providers; increased screening and treatment for people with behavioral health needs; and capital investments strengthening the continuum of care.

As the opioid epidemic continues to impact southeastern Ohio, children remain one of the most heavily affected populations. The trauma faced by these children has a lasting impact on their social and emotional development. In recent years, and in response to the growing number of youth experiencing trauma and behavioral health issues, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has promoted a resilience-oriented mental health system for youth. A key component of this methodology is to provide sanctuary in communities, or places for refuge, respite, recovery and rejuvenation for young people with behavioral health issues. In addition, with Ohio schools now mandated to create plans to improve not only academic but behavioral outcomes for their students, schools and community organizations are considered primary locations for delivery of behavioral health services for youth.

To further these objectives, the Foundation and the 317 Board each allocated an additional $300,000 to continue the funding partnership, with the first three awards announced to improve outcomes for at-risk youth as follows:

  • Adventure Therapy Project: $76,000 to support training of 50 clinical staff at five area agencies on trauma-informed care methods utilizing cooperative games, problem solving initiatives and adventure activities geared toward youth.
  • Hopewell Health Centers: $185,000 to support seven school districts with trauma-informed school plans, integrating prevention education and social emotional learning aimed at reducing suspensions, expulsions, incidences of bullying and rates of suicide.
  • Sojourners Care Network: $162,500 to create a center in Athens County offering housing and support for high school completion, workforce development, behavioral health services and legal services to homeless and at-risk youth.

The partnership will allocate additional funds in 2020 in support of at-risk youth in Athens, Hocking and Vinton counties.