New Mental Health Web Site to Launch Next Month

May 26, 2004
Alliance Review

To place information into the hands of those who need it, the Stark County Mental Health Board, in partnership with the Stark County Family Council, announces the launch of its new Internet-based community resource, the Stark County Network of Care (http://stark.oh.networkofcare.org) on June 9.

Current information related to mental health, children and families will be the focus of the site. “It’s all together and sort of a one-stop shop,” said Mary Alice Sonnhalter, director of community relations for the SCMHB.

The site will provide Stark Citizens access to timely information and resources available for mental health and social services.

The Web site is among the first of its kind in Ohio. “Stark County is a test spot for this sort of thing, although it’s been in the works for 10-12 years, “ said Carol Lichtenwalter, director of the Stark County Family Council. “It’s evolved along with the technology, from database, to using the Internet, the Network of Care is the culmination of all we’ve wanted to do.”

The Ohio Department of Mental Health provided initial funding for the site and selected Stark as one of three Ohio pilot programs. The Network of Care virtual community was developed by Trilogy Integrated Resources, LLC of California.

The site provides a resource for individuals, families and agencies involved with children and youths age 0-18 or those searching for information about mental health and emotional wellness. Both the Network of Care for Mental Health and the Network of Care for Children and Families are represented through the Web site.

The June 9 preview and launch of the Network of Care Web Site for Stark County will be held at the R. G. Drage Career and Professional Development Center, 6805 Richville Drive S.W., Massillon (Richville Drive exit off Route 30 between Massillon and Canton.)

Lichtentwalter said one of the most important components of the site is the Personal Folder feature. “People can save information about their own care, their own interests, and it’s password protected,” she said. “If I’m a parent with a child who needs care, you tell this story why you need assistance many times. With a personal folder, you can tell this story and access all the things that apply to you.”

Another interesting component, said Sonnhalter, is the Legislate area of the site where you can identify a bill that’s of interest to you. You can post your opinion, comments and contact the person who wrote the bill directly, again, all at one place.

Lichtenwalter said the Web site will be continually updated to provide timely information. “This has so much potential for helping people,” she said. “We want to get this into people’s hands.”

Les Abel, executive directory of the Stark County Community Mental Health Board, said Stark County is fortunate to be recognized for their efforts. “We’re the first to actually launch the sites together,” he said.

“I think the thing most intriguing to me about the site was the ability for people to create their own personal folder,” said Abel. “When they go through the links, they can collect their information and it can be shared with other providers. It ideally allows others to be informed. And people have the ability to control who has access. Technology is such that it’s now possible.”

He also applauded the legislative component. “The Legislate channel,” said Abel, “lets people follow pertinent bills. It’s now becoming the preferred way to converse with legislatures.”

From the Health Board’s standpoint, he said, the site strives to get information into the hands of consumers and family members. “It puts them in charge of their own information and who has access to it.” Said Abel. “This is equally advantageous to providers.”

Other features, he said, included daily news updates, from both the national and community level, as well as a community ca