Federal money coming to East Palestine for mental health

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced nearly $3 million to help officials react to behavioral health impacted by crash.

Published: April 16, 2023 5:32am

(The Center Square) -

Government spending in the wake of a toxic chemical train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio continues.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced nearly $3 million for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to help officials react to behavioral health needs of people affected by traumatic events, such as natural disasters, mass shootings and other large-scale man-made and terrorist events.

“The recent train derailment in East Palestine is a prime example of how disasters can impact the well-being of individuals, families and communities,” DeWine said. “It is essential that our behavioral health care system is able to quickly respond to the immediate and long-term behavioral health care needs of those adversely affected by trauma. These funds will accomplish just that by strengthening Ohio’s emergency preparedness planning and ensuring a swift, coordinated response when surges in behavioral health needs inevitably occur.”

The $2.9 million comes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the money is expected to be used to develop statewide and local partnerships, policies, procedures and protocols to change how essential behavioral health support is deployed.

Plans include the development and enhancement of mobile crisis teams that can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the state for crisis support and response in providing care in the days, weeks and months after a traumatic event.

“Preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters and traumatic events is essential to the behavioral health of individuals and communities alike,” OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss said. “Although everyone reacts differently to disasters and most will return to normal, some of those affected may suffer from serious and prolonged mental or emotional distress. Finding support in a timely fashion will help people minimize negative outcomes.”

The funding comes nearly a week after OhioMHAS received a $209,402 federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help meet immediate and ongoing behavioral health needs of the East Palestine community.

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