EDITOR’S NOTE: Another version of this story was printed earlier in the election season. This story is being reprinted as a service to local voters.
The Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services (MHDAS) Board of Logan and Champaign Counties hopes to pass an operating levy this November.
The board is seeking passage of a 0.7 mill, five-year replacement levy for both counties. In 2011, a 0.7 mill levy passed in Champaign County, 58.21 percent to 41.79 percent, while Logan County voters passed the same levy, 57.98 percent to 42.02 percent.
This year’s levy is expected to generate $1,353,000 annually combined from the two counties.
Dr. David Higgins, executive director of MHDAS, said the goal of the levy is to allow the board to continue numerous services provided to both counties. Higgins said the levy accounts for 42 percent of the board’s funding.
Higgins said while people know the board provides outpatient and inpatient services for mental health, drug and alcohol to people of all ages, there are other efforts the board is involved with people may not be aware of.
“We’re stewards of their dollars so what we want to do is make sure that we’re using their dollars in the best way,” Higgins said. “We’re involved in a lot of different activities across the community.”
Higgins said a number of the community programs associated with the board would not be able to continue without the levy.
The long varying list of services includes working with county health districts for maternal depression screenings, working with the Family and Children First Council to help families who need help, working with the Logan/Champaign Counties Suicide Prevention Coalition and Champaign County Opiate Task Force.
Higgins said Botvin Lifeskills are provided in the 3rd grade and 9th grade to help children make good decisions concerning drugs and other life choices.
Another outreach program Higgins referenced is Volunteers for Adult Life Enhancement (V.A.L.E.), a volunteer adult guardianship program for adults in need, including adults with developmental disabilities or mental health needs.
“We help provide funding for people with mental health problems that need support,” Higgins said. “A lot of times in people with consistent mental health problems the family pulls away.”
Higgins said the board also offers training sessions for mental health first aid, an evidence-based program he said helps people help those with mental health problems.
The board also does crisis intervention training with law enforcement, dispatchers and jail personnel, to help them respond to people with mental health problems.
“We have over 90 percent of the people on police and sheriff departments in both counties trained in crisis intervention training,” Higgins said. “What the police have seen is they have another way to handle a person, we’ve had less arrests, we’ve had less incidents since they started using (crisis intervention training).
The board also provides Bridges out of Poverty, a program to help people understand the effects of poverty and help those in need move beyond poverty.
Moving forward, Higgins said, the goal is to work with the community to make sure needed services are available.