In the 1950s, the nation's state psychiatric hospitals reached their peak at approximately 560,000 residents. The system then saw a shift away from inpatient hospitalization to a community mental health philosophy that showed it is more beneficial and humane to treat people with mental illness in the community where they are closer to their families, jobs, and other community supports.
The Ohio Legislature enacted House Bill 648 in 1967 which established 53 Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Boards. The bill marked major progress for Ohioans receiving publicly supported mental health and addiction services by creating a community-based system of care.
In 1988 with the passage of Senate Bill 156, also known as Ohio's Mental Health Act of 1988, another step was taken to develop an integrated system of care. Local Mental Health Boards were identified as the public entities responsible for services to adults with serious mental illness. This legislation increased the involvement of recovering people and their families in the treatment process, enhanced training for mental health professionals, strengthened licensing requirements in order to assure quality, and put into place case management as a piece of the community support system.
In 1989, House Bill 317 created the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services and added alcohol and drug addiction prevention, treatment, and support services to the operations of the local Boards. Through all the changes and progressions in authority, three out every four patients in Ohio's state hospitals transitioned into community-based settings. Today, Ohio's behavioral health Boards continue to ensure that substance use disorder and mental health services are available to those who need them, regardless of their ability to pay.
Ohio's citizens benefit from having local alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health services boards located in their home communities. Local control over behavioral health services guarantees that the system is consumer and family friendly, has the support of the local community, is accountable to taxpayers, and ensures a wide array of culturally competent community-based services.