The Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County has been on a long, purposeful journey partnering with community stakeholders to address the continuum of crisis care for mental health and addiction crisis needs. The cornerstone of this continuum is the development of a new crisis center, which is set to break ground in a matter of days.
This milestone comes after years of planning and has been made possible by countless individuals. Planning committees for the Franklin County Crisis Care Center have included voices from every part of the community including mental health and addiction service providers, hospitals, public safety, advocacy organizations, and individuals and families with lived experience.
The diverse perspectives have mattered a great deal to those involved in the project. “The number of diverse community stakeholders who helped plan for the crisis center is the reason why the center will be a success,” said Jeff Klingler, CEO for the Central Ohio Hospital Council, who served on the project’s steering committee and currently serves on the Crisis Care Community Advisory Council.
Juliet Dorris Williams, executive director for The P.E.E.R. Center, served on the project’s governance and funding committee. As someone who leads a peer recovery organization, Juliet has a special appreciation for the number of voices represented in this project and focus on the big picture of care.
“Adding strong voices of experience and hope from those living and thriving in recovery from mental health and addiction to the conversation means that there is an understanding, appreciation and value in post-crisis supportive services,” said Juliet. “I'm heartened that there is a big-picture vision for those coming through the crisis doors. These individuals will be met by people who, by their very presence, will send the message that there is something on the other side of crisis. They will know that this will not be the end of their story and could very well be a bright and new beginning.”
When asked what it’s meant to be a part of this project, Jeff shared, “In my 30-plus years in working for and representing hospitals, this project has probably been the most fulfilling for me professionally. Working side by side with so many community organizations, each bringing their own vision for what is needed to address such a complex problem, and then seeing those individual ideas come together in a common vision has been extremely rewarding.”
Columbus Division of Fire’s Captain Matt Parrish served on the project’s steering committee and is a member of the Crisis Care Community Advisory Council. As a first responder, he was grateful to be included in a project like this. “Not only are first responders the safety net for individuals in crisis, we are also members of the community who are not personally immune to mental health and addiction issues,” said Matt. “Working collaboratively with the community and stakeholders allowed our voice to be heard and included. This has been a long, thoughtful process, and I’m humble and beyond proud to have been a part of it.”
With the center’s groundbreaking quickly approaching, those who have been on this journey are filled with excitement and emotion. Juliet explained, “I'm excited to have entered this phase where the reality of expansive and comprehensive mental health and addiction crisis support services is finally coming into view.”
“Groundbreaking for the crisis center will be emotional,” said Jeff. “This community has spent years working together to plan for, fund and construct a facility that will improve the lives of so many of our fellow residents. Dozens of organizations have said for many years that access to mental health and addiction services is an urgent health need in central Ohio, but we didn’t just talk about it; we rolled up our sleeves and worked to address this health need together. That makes me emotional – in a very good way.”