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After behavioral health emerged as the top concern during the 2022 Stark County Health Improvement Summit, a dedicated group of community leaders, convened by Stark Community Foundation, joined forces to address the issue and seek collaborative solutions to enhance health outcomes. With representation from various sectors across Stark County, the Stark County Behavioral Health Collective embarked on a journey to create a roadmap for fostering a north star for behavioral health: everyone struggles; no one struggles alone.
Amy Krebs, vice president of grants and community initiatives at Stark Community Foundation, highlighted the urgency of the situation, sharing, “During last year's Health Summit, 76% of community leaders expressed concerns about the insufficient mental health services in Stark County. Challenges such as staffing shortages, limited access to care, stigma reduction, affordability and the lack of integration of mental health into other healthcare services were identified.”
As a foundation with a deep community commitment, convening role and collaborative approach, Stark Community Foundation took the lead in bringing a growing network of community partners together to discuss the complex challenge of behavioral health and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Through months of guided discussions and brainstorming sessions, a shared community vision for behavioral health was developed, resulting in the development of nearly 125 health improvement experiments and strategies.
To streamline the process and obtain a more focused approach, facilitators assisted in reducing the extensive list of strategies to a final selection of 10. These 10 strategies were presented for discussion and voting at the 2023 Health Summit.
At the Health Summit, local participants chose five of the selected strategies to address the priority health need of mental health access, as identified in the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.
“Working with entities across various sectors and through data collection, the five selected strategies will be utilized to monitor incremental change in improving mental health in Stark County,” said Dr. Anju Mader, chief integration officer at Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery. “We encourage agencies and organizations to explore the 120+ collective work strategies to address and improve mental health access. While no one strategy is definitive, collaborating on concurrent multiple strategies can have a cumulative effect.”
This year’s strategies include:
“As part of our Community Health Improvement Plan, these strategies need support from everyone in the community, not just agencies or programs” said Kay Conley, director of administration and support services for the Stark County Health Department. “Any agency or individual can support and adopt some of the processes, behaviors or systems under one or more of these strategies. First, people need to be aware of and get behind the strategy, and then they have to figure out how they can support the work on a personal, agency or systems change level.”
Each strategy will be supported by a working committee consisting of dedicated volunteers who are committed to advancing that particular strategy. If you are interested in participating in one or more of these working groups, reach out to Conley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-451-1446.
Dr. Anju Mader
Chief Integration Officer
Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery
Director of Administration and Support Services
Stark County Health Department
Vice President of Grants and Community Initiatives
Stark Community Foundation