COLUMBUS — In response to increasing shortages in the state’s behavioral healthcare workforce intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) took action to retain the community provider workforce through a $5 million federal CARES Act funding opportunity, which assisted OhioMHAS certified community behavioral health centers (CBHCs) with retention incentives for their frontline staff.

This behavioral health workforce retention incentive provided one-time allocation awards of up to $50,000 to more than 115 OhioMHAS-certified organizations, to invest in their workforce.

These community behavioral health centers were able to use the funding to pay retention bonuses to medical, administrative, credentialed (including prevention specialists), peer recovery supporters, and non-credentialed (qualified mental health specialists and care management specialists) staff who continue to routinely perform their duties during the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.

“In our RecoveryOhio Initial Report, there are several recommendations on how Ohio can address workforce shortages in critical areas like behavioral health care,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

“A strong workforce supports the overall health and well-being of Ohio’s families and communities.”

“Recruiting and retaining a skilled behavioral health workforce is one of the top challenges I hear from providers around Ohio,” said OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss.

“Getting the best outcomes for Ohioans with mental health and substance use issues requires a behavioral health workforce that is supported in its ability to successfully provide care, and this funding is one opportunity to help retain those on the frontlines of community behavioral health during this critical time of need.”

Community behavioral health center employees benefiting from this funding are eligible for up to $2,500 and must commit to working for their employer for a minimum of one year from the date of receipt of the funding.

This funding continues a series of actions by the state to sustain a highly-skilled mental health and addiction services workforce, including essential, clinical and non-clinical frontline providers.

In recent years, OhioMHAS has also made significant investments to support training and education opportunities around suicide prevention, residency programs in psychiatry, and has used federal grant funds to expand the number of medical professionals qualified to prescribe medication-assisted treatment for Ohioans impacted by opioid addiction.

Among the list of funding recipients, Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center was listed as being awarded $50,000.

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