Jamie Cook, Public Relations Assistant at the Fairfield County ADAMH Board
During the time I’ve worked for the Fairfield County ADAMH Board, my favorite question to receive is “Who’s this Adam guy I keep hearing about?” Sometimes people will assume we’re the same as the Pearl House. Sometimes they think we’re a non-profit organization that provides services. Sometimes I get “isn’t that the place in the old Kresge building?” I think it’s safe to say, many people are confused about who we are and what it is we really do.
First of all, ADAMH stands for “Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health.” The “H” on the end is pronounced, so the correct way to say our abbreviation is “Adam H.”
So what is it that we actually do?
Simply put, the State of Ohio allocates some money every year to each county to take care of their mental health and addiction recovery needs. Each county in Ohio has an ADAMH board, and those boards are responsible for using the funds wisely in their local community. Many times the state mandates that the majority of the money is used for a specific purpose, so boards have to make sure that they are following all the rules while also taking care of all their community members. It can be a balancing act!
In Fairfield County we have a 14 member board of citizens who meet once a month to talk about how best to utilize our resources. They employ a staff of people who work full time making sure that the needs of the community are being monitored and met. Our staff take care of things like making sure the budget is balanced, applying for and administering grants, advocating for people who use our services (and their families!), and answering the phone at all hours of the day and night to ensure that people are getting the services that they need.
But don’t be confused, we don’t ever offer direct service to clients. The State of Ohio says we have to work with local agencies to make sure that the needs of our county are being met. That’s why you may know more about the agencies we fund than the actual ADAMH Board. Ever heard of New Horizons? The Recovery Center? How about The Lighthouse or Big Brothers Big Sisters? All of our Network of Care organizations use ADAMH funds to help make our community better. Through these agencies, we are able to give the community things like treatment for addiction, counseling for mental health disorders, prevention efforts for kids in school, housing, crisis support, hospitalization, specialized training, and advocacy.
You can see a full list of all of our Network of Care service providers here.
So, why do we need a local levy if the State of Ohio is giving us money each year?
Quite frankly, the state funds we receive each year are not enough to cover the needs of our community. The levy funds that are generated are critical because they allow us to continue the work we do. Without the support of the local community many people would not be able to receive treatment for a mental health or addiction disorder.
Why do we do what we do?
I think I can speak for everyone on the ADAMH Board staff when I say, we do this work because we’re passionate about recovery. People who have the opportunity to receive the treatment they need can recover from a mental health or addiction disorder and go on to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.