Ohio launches mental health initiative led by Ohio State University researchers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A new statewide initiative is underway, which will be led by researchers at the Ohio State University, to address what Gov. Mike DeWine calls the state’s mental health crisis.

“Experts 10, 20, or even 30 years from now will look back on this moment, crediting the SOAR study for its life saving advancements,” CEO of tOSU Wexner Medical Center Dr. John Warner said.

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Support for mental health was funded in the state’s budget at a historic level last summer and now part of that funding is coming to life to the tune of a $20 million research grant.

“We believe Ohio has the ability to lead the nation in innovations, in prevention, treatment and recovery,” DeWine said.

It is a decade-long research project, led by Doctor Luan Phan at tOSU in partnership with other universities across the state.

“To explain what I feel are fairly simple but fundamental questions: who gets ill, why do they get ill, how do they get ill,” Phan said. “There’s never been an effort of this scale, with this depth, in the history of addiction, mental health and resilience research.”

“It will give us a complete picture of each participant to uncover why, for example, two people in similar circumstances, with similar health, have very different outcomes,” DeWine said.

DeWine said even though this study is set to last a decade, he will continue to ask the legislature to fund mental health initiatives as needed.

Phan said there are 227 suicide or overdose deaths across the nation, and 19 in Ohio every day.

“Mental illness remains largely a mystery to our researchers, our clinicians and because of that, the public,” he said.

The research project, in some instances, will go straight to people in all corners of Ohio, rather than having them come to an academic medical center.

“Bring science and treatment to the people, where they are at, where they live, where they work, rather than having them come to an academic medical center, which in some ways, have made people reluctant to do,” Phan said.

Though the study will span over 10 years, Phan said they plan to publish findings each year and adopt any new initiatives they can, in real-time, based on their results.

“This study will shape the future of mental health across Ohio and beyond,” Warner said.

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