Gavarone bill would address shortage of mental health care professionals

COLUMBUS, Ohio — State Senator Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, has introduced legislation to address Ohio’s mental health care professional shortage.

According to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, demand for behavioral health services increased 353% statewide from 2013 to 2019. Those numbers rose again in 2021 by 70% for mental health services and 60% for addiction services.

Senate Bill 364 will create a new provider to increase the amount of mental health care professionals. Certified Mental Health Assistants, or CMHAs, will undergo a rigorous curriculum that would, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Higher Education, be created and adopted by schools across Ohio — first beginning at the Northeast Ohio Medical University.

“Improving access to mental health care was one of the primary reasons why I sought elected office.” Gavarone said. “The number of people becoming psychiatrists is dropping precipitously, and I have heard from countless people who have explained to me that they want to work in the mental health care field, but have no interest in going to medical school. The creation of this new provider will result in more people who will be able to provide better mental health care services for Ohioans.”