Racism is a Public Health Crisis:

Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery’s Action Plan

June 25, 2020

Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (“StarkMHAR”) stands united with our community and the entire nation in calling for equal rights and treatment, ending systematic bias and institutional racism that has negatively impacted Black lives throughout our country’s history.  We are committed to establishing a system that promotes access, health equity and ensures trauma informed care in all aspects of service delivery. We are committed to listen to consumers, staff and any citizen of Stark County and realize that more work needs to be done in this vital area.

Communities of color, particularly those with other intersecting areas of marginalization, are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of social determinants of health — stemming from economic stability, education, physical environment, inadequate food and access to health care systems, including mental health and addiction. The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and further exacerbated these health inequities.

StarkMHAR is committed to work that aims for equity in outcomes for all, and recognizes that efforts around access to services for under served and disadvantaged populations need to be prioritized. As such, a work group will be formed, made up of board members, staff, and community members, that will analyze the value of current services, create a multi year plan to expand successful and/or emerging services, and devise a way to measure their impact. Below are three examples of areas the work group will examine, among others:

  1. Ensure health equity and cultural competence within all mental health and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery support programs, ensuring services meet the local needs of diverse populations;
  2. What is StarkMHAR’s role in advocating for policies at the local, state and federal level that intersect with behavioral health work;
  3. What training is needed for behavioral health staff in the county as well as other stakeholders, and how to achieve that training. This includes expansion of current workforce development, including recruitment and engagement of diverse workforce.

The next report out will be made in three months or sooner as the work group is formed and begins discussions.

15 Day unity challenge to dismantle racism

StarkMHAR has partnered with the Dismantling Racism Coalition of Stark County to create the 15 Day Unity Challenge to Dismantle Racism. The challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. Participants will explore racial equity and social injustice through activities designed to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination.

Sign up for the challenge »
Read the Canton Rep article »