Racism is a Public Health Crisis:

Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery’s Action Plan

May 9, 2022 – update

The following eight items are examples of the ongoing and new work StarkMHAR is carrying out in order to dismantle racism and do our part to create a better community:

  1. Board composition: The StarkMHAR Board of Directors ought to reflect and represent the communities we serve. To ensure this is the case, Board Source (a trusted, independent advising organization) is working with us to identify any areas of improvement.
  2. Media outlets/information dissemination: Minority media outlets can be crucial ways of reaching underserved populations. These outlets have been identified, contact information has been gathered, and any press releases or bulletins will be sent to these outlets consistently. Additionally, more diverse imagery has been a primary focus of awareness campaigns. Example
  3. The Juneteenth holiday has been officially recognized by the StarkMHAR Board of Directors, and will have the same prominence within the organization as other recognized holidays.
  4. The Stark County Cultural Competence Committee (SC3C) continues to meet on a regular basis with a focus on improving accessibility to services for marginalized communities.
  5. The SC3C created an HR subcommittee to address the efforts of creating a more diverse workforce in the mental health system. This subcommittee’s members are HR representatives from various provider agencies as well as some system partners. They meet on a regular basis and have contracted with Enlightened Solutions for HR policy reviews and consultation.
  6. The Cultural Ally program is expanding their efforts to provide resources to the Black and Latinx communities.
  7. The System of Care Family Engagement Coordinator, in collaboration with Cultural Ally for the Black community, have developed a Parent Café for fathers of the Black community.
  8. Equity & Inclusion Trainings continue to be provided to the community.

March 11, 2021 – update

The following five items are examples of the ongoing and new work StarkMHAR is carrying out in order to dismantle racism and do our part to create a better community:

  1. Build a behavioral health workforce that more closely aligns with the demographic make-up of the community.
  2. Provide support and resources to the grassroots organizations that are often the ones responding to grief and trauma after violent events.
  3. Continue the robust trainings offered through our “Population Focused Learning Series” – view past trainings here 
  4. Persist in the education about and delivery of services that are culturally and linguistically competent – learn more here
  5. Put additional emphasis on days/occasions of significance to diverse communities through our social media and other public-facing channels.

June 25, 2020 – statement

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 »