By Sean Barron
Several years ago, Help Hotline Crisis Center Inc. received on average four calls per month from people who were suicidal.
During the past two years, however, that figure has jumped to about 17 a day.
That alarming figure not only points to the need for the 24-hour-a-day crisis line but attests to the value of mental-health services in the county, Ronald Marian told county commissioners during their meeting here Thursday.
May is Mental Health Month in Ohio.
Marian, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health Board, noted that one of the highest rates of suicide occurs in men age 42 to 50, largely because of job losses, high stress, depression and other upheavals. The rate also is high in adolescents, he said.
To that end, Marian said, the D&E Counseling Center conducts screenings for depression in about 25 county junior-high schools.
Mainly eighth- and ninth-graders fill out forms that allow mental-health professionals to assess the youngsters’ personal problems as well as difficulties at home, for example, Marian explained.
Some receive one-on-one attention based on their needs, he continued.
In addition, last month, about 175 police officers representing all county jurisdictions took a five-day crisis-intervention training course at Youngstown State University, largely to help them deal more effectively with people who have mental-health challenges, Marian noted.
The trainees learned nonviolent intervention techniques to diffuse domestic-violence situations, for example, and are often the first to handle such calls, he said, adding that the officers also became more familiar with mental-health agencies.
Turning Point Counseling and Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court run a court that offers certain offenders a two-year treatment program in lieu of jail.
About 15 to 20 people graduate each year from the 3-year-old rigorous program, which includes probation officers and counselors, Marian noted.
The board also has a contract with St. Elizabeth Health Center to help pay hospital treatment for people with mental-health challenges who are indigent, many of whom need to get their medications readjusted, he said.