Ohio University

OhioMHAS extends Voinovich School community-based substance use prevention work

Substance Abuse and Prevention Project Teaser

Through Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs 11-year partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), the Programmatic Partnership for Community-Based Prevention is poised to once again extend the School’s commitment to improving the health and wellness of citizens throughout the state.

Voinovich School professor Dr. Holly Raffle leads a team of six employees and five students, in the partnership with OhioMHAS, to provide intensive leadership development, training, technical assistance, and evaluation services centered around substance use prevention and mental health promotion to community leaders from 60 of Ohio’s 88 counties. 

“As I reflect on these eleven years of service to the state of Ohio’s mental health and addiction service system, I am optimistic about the growth of Ohio’s prevention system,” Raffle said. “These years have been especially exciting as prevention has emerged as a science and we have a better understanding how Ohio’s prevention professionals can contribute to community health beyond delivering programs to children, youth and families.”

Since 2008, the Partnership has generated nearly $11.5 million in external project funding from state and federal organizations. Additional funding from the state legislature’s Appalachian New Economy Partnership is also helping to support the ongoing work. For this fiscal year, OhioMHAS has provided $220,000 in funding to continue to support two initiatives: Ohio Adult Allies and Children of Incarcerated Parents.

Collaborating with Prevention Action Alliance, the Ohio Adult Allies Initiative provides workforce and leadership development support for adults who facilitate youth-led programming that effectively engages youth voice and youth action by equipping young people with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to catalyze change in their communities.

“This initiative prepares adults to effectively guide young people in creating community change, empowering them to take action in their communities,” Dr. Jessica Collura, research associate, said. “This funding will allow us to continue to provide learning opportunities to adults who facilitate youth-led programs and to co-create resources with them for the broader prevention field.”

The Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative supports the integration of best practice prevention approaches into Ohio’s re-entry system to support restored citizens upon return to the community and is delivered in partnership with two minority-serving organizations, the Mansfield Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program and SheRay’s & Associates, as well as the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

“I am grateful and proud to be able to expand upon the important work that the CIP Initiative has achieved over the last five years,” Holly Craycraft, research associate, said. “The continuation of funding, especially during these challenging times, is a testament to the innovative partnership with our state and community stakeholders and the positive impact this initiative is having on the lives of individuals who have experienced incarceration and their children and families.” 

Raffle agrees, noting that today preventionists in Ohio are using data-driven techniques to select, plan and implement comprehensive community-based strategies that are culturally responsive and sustainable. 

“This shift ensures that more Ohioans are exposed to prevention initiatives across their lifespans - because we know that the Ben Franklin axiom that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is just as true today as it was in the 1700s,” Raffle said.