March 24, 2015. The Columbus Dispatch.
Mental-health advocates and faith organizations are urging Franklin County officials to launch a “psychiatric rehabilitation” program because they say it will save the lives of some mentally ill people.
Roel Obias, 33, says his life was saved because of Magnolia Clubhouse, a Cuyahoga County program which local folks hope to replicate here.
Just seven months ago, Obias said he sat alone in a Cleveland park, holding a gun to his head, planning to end his 17-year struggle with mental illness, worsened by frustration over losing his job.
For some reason, Obias didn’t pull the trigger. A short time later, he heard about Magnolia Clubhouse which offers employment opportunities, socialization and treatment to help pull people out of the depths of isolation which often accompanies mental illness.
“Having a clubhouse here in Franklin County will definitely save some lives,” said Obias, who is now studying biology at Cleveland State University. He spoke to about 150 people gathered on Tuesday at Rhema Christian Center, 2100 Agler Rd., for a mental health community meeting sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Health Ohio and an interdenominational faith group called Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity, or BREAD.
NAMI and faith leaders are lobbying the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County to provide some funding for a clubhouse program in the Columbus area. Other than Magnolia, there is one other program in Ohio in Dayton. The county mental health board pays about half the $1 million annual cost of the Cleveland program, with the United Way, the state, grants and private fundraising covering the remainder.
“It really does work,” said Bill Denihan, head of the Cuyahoga County mental health board. “This makes a difference in people’s lives.” A major benefit of the clubhouse rehabilitation approach is it is far less expensive than traditional treatment, Denihan said. Funding for about 350 people in the Cleveland program costs $3,000 apiece annually, about as much as a 2- to 3-day stay in a state hospital.
David Royer, Denihan’s counterpart in Franklin County, has visited the Magnolia program, but has not committed to providing money for a local effort.
Susan Lewis Kaylor, the local board’s chief administrative officer, said the agency already contributes $1.1 million to similar “peer-run support services,” but is actively considering the request by BREAD and will meet with group leaders April 8.
People who come to Magnolia House are considered members, not clients, and pay $1 daily dues when visiting the center in the University Circle area of Cleveland. They get leads on jobs, treatment and education, and help run the program by cooking, cleaning and overseeing the budget.
As much as anything else, Magnolia allows people with mental illness to interact with others and realize they are not alone, said Lori D’Angelo, executive director.
Amy McBride, 52, a Clevelander who worked in the telecommunications industry until bi-polar disorder took its toll, agreed with Obias that finding Magnolia Clubhouse kept her going when things looked darkest.
“It has been a lifeline for me that gets me out of the house and keeps me out of the hospital,” McBride said.