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Stark County, OH (April 19, 2019) Since immediate access to behavioral health services can greatly impact positive outcomes, a workforce initiative is currently underway that is designed to increase the number of independently licensed social workers and counselors in our county. With support from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (StarkMHAR) is currently working with The University of Akron and will be hosting an on-site MSW (Master of Social Work) cohort beginning in the fall of 2019.

“We are fortunate to have a partner like the Sisters of Charity Foundation in Stark County, where we are in near constant communication about the changing needs of our community,” said John Aller, executive director of StarkMHAR. “One opportunity we see is the need to expand, diversify, and strengthen the behavioral health professionals available to our residents. Through support from the Foundation and other partners, we’re taking steps to make that happen.”

In addition, StarkMHAR is working with Walsh University and Kent State University around expanding access to psychiatric services through Advanced Practice Nurses trained in behavioral health; additional efforts are also underway to enhance recruitment and retention of existing behavioral health staff.

“The benefits of this initiative will be exponential,” said Joni T. Close, President of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. “Working professionals will have advanced education that fits into their lives, Stark County will attract and retain dedicated workers, and ultimately, those who need services will have better access. It’s an ideal partnership that touches on several needs in our county.”

Support for these projects is through a braided stream of funding that includes the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, OhioMeansJobs and StarkMHAR. The second phase of the project will include a focus area of fiscal, billing, and administrative support and is currently beginning.

About Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery
Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a multi-faceted organization of expert professionals, dedicated volunteers and concerned community leaders close to mental health and addiction needs right here at home. StarkMHAR is responsible for planning, funding and monitoring public mental health and addiction prevention, early intervention and treatment services delivered to the residents of Stark County. It is one of approximately 50 boards coordinating the public behavioral health system across Ohio. StarkMHAR also advocates for residents with behavioral health issues at both the local and state levels and provides educational opportunities for local providers and other community stakeholders. For more online about the work of StarkMHAR, visit