Mental Health Web Site Active: Network of Care Offers National, State and Local Resources

May 25, 2007
Marietta Times

Marietta, OhioArea agency officials learned to navigate a new Web site Thursday, which will provide the most comprehensive information on mental health assistance.

The site, called Network of Care, is a part of a federal grant to aid several states in improving access to mental health information. Ohio was one of seven states to receive grant funds.

Washington County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board executive director Ron Rees unveiled the Web site Thursday and encouraged other agency officials to learn how to use it.

“We needed something that is dynamic and interactive for people to stay informed about what is available in mental health services,” he said.

Because the Web site is now part of a state and national effort to improve access to information, it includes state and national agencies and services.

However, the site includes a county and element. Therefore, in Washington County, the site is specially designed to provide local information about agencies and services.

Cathy Harper, coordinator for the Right Path for Washington County, a youth organization, said the site will be helpful for young people and families but will also help those who work with families to aid them better.

“This is the piece of the puzzle that’s been missing,” Harper said. “There are a lot of families that are looking for resources, so this is something that we need and have wanted in our community for a long time.”

Dave Copen, executive director of Washington County Children Services, said the site is excellent.

“We find ourselves going on the Internet looking for symptoms, we’re constantly out there trying to find out what we’re dealing with and where to find services for these families, so I think this is a win-win situation,” he said.

The site provides a comprehensive library about all mental health illnesses and articles about the latest research, technology and treatments.

There is also the interactive element. Users can create their own account and save information they have researched on the site, personal health information, information on doctor’s and hospitals, and their own notes about their research.

The site also has information about legislation affecting mental health. Users can directly contact, via the site, legislators about proposed legislation and let them know what they think.

Network of Care is secure so only those with permission can access a person’s account. The site is designed to be user-friendly but Rees said volunteers in the community have been trained to teach anyone how to use it if they need help.

Shirley Holland, 72, of Marietta, is a volunteer with the House of Hope. She has been trained to use the site and is looking forward to helping others.

“I think it’s great because there’s so many of us that need more information,” she said. “It’s user-friendly. If I can learn to use it, anybody can.”

The Network of Care site is now available to the public at www.ohio.networkofcare