Batavia Trustees are in support of mental health levy

The Batavia Township Trustees voted Oct. 3 to support the .5 mill mental health levy that will be on the November ballot.

The county-wide levy will act to replace a current levy of the same millage which has been in existence since 2000. John Kies, a member of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, explained to the trustees just what the levy was about and how the mental health organizations it supports helps the community.

“I’m here to inform you about the levy we’ll have in November, and to see if you so desire to endorse our levy,” said Kies. “We have a .5 mill levy on the ballot, which works out to $15.31 per $100,000 of valuation. It’s a replacement levy, and will replace a .5 mill levy that was voted on in 2000.”

In all, three agencies will be the primary beneficiaries of the levy. The Clermont Counseling Center, Child Focus and Clermont Recovery Center will each be funded in part by the levy. The three agencies provide a range of services that include everything from job counseling to early childhood health and education. One very public service that would also benefit from the levy is a suicide prevention line that has seen a lot of use since it was created, said Kies.

“They are our primary contract agencies and provide a wide range of mental health and alcohol and drug recovery services for people here in the county,” said Kies. “They also provide school-based services. We also have a crisis hotline, which is the 528-SAVE number, that was formulated about three years ago. That responds to a number of suicide calls we have here in the county. That line has been used very extensively, we’ve had over 1,500 calls and the number of suicides went from 34 four years ago to 17 last year. We don’t know the cause and effect, but we know we’ve had an impact on people.”

During the presentation, examples such as the tragic shooting of several amish children by a mentally disturbed man were used to show just how important getting mentally ill people the help they need can be. While treating the mentally ill is a main portion of the duties assumed by the agencies involved, there is also another area of such tragedies where counseling is needed – for the survivors.

“We also work in crisis environments too,” said Kies. “We’ve done training as behavioral health responders. First responders have indicated that there is an immediate issue and a long-term issue. This gives us the ability to call on people in the event that we should have some disaster.”

Trustee Archie Wilson said that he believed the programs to be very important, and Trustee Lee Cornett expressed disbelief at the rate of suicide in the county.

“You’re saying that there was 34 a few years ago, and 17 recently?” asked Cornett. “That’s amazing, I didn’t know it was that high, but at least it’s in decline.”

Kies said that they have had to expand their efforts because of those high suicide rates. One such program includes work done in schools. Kies said that a pair of students killed themselves last year in the Glen Este school district.

“We had people in both of those schools at the end of last year and the beginning of this year working on programs for those schools,” said Kies. “We’re trying to head off those issues before they arise. Typically, and this is national too, there are twice as many suicides as homicides. Most people aren’t aware of that.”

Kies said that the most at-risk age group for suicide was older men and teenagers. For more information on the levy or for information on counseling services, call (513) 732-5400.