County Observes Mental Health Awareness, Foster Care Months

SUMMIT COUNTY, OHIO—County Executive Ilene Shapiro and County Council passed a resolution this week recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month and Foster Care Month, raising awareness about mental health and the stigma around those experiencing mental illness or a mental health crisis, and uplifting foster children and foster families in Summit County.


Mental Health Awareness Month is an annual opportunity to share stories and highlight services around mental health. This year’s theme is “Where to Start,” which provides a starting point for people seeking to improve their well-being. Mental Health America created a toolkit for individuals and organizations to help raise awareness. Mental health continues to be a serious issue in Summit County. In 2023, 96 residents died by suicide, predominantly middle-aged white men. The stigma around discussing mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, as well as around subjects such as grief, loss, loneliness, and self-worth remains a significant barrier to getting people the help they need and equipping them with the tools and resources to care for their mental well-being.


In response to the need for specialized assistance for people experiencing mental health emergencies, the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADM) Board launched a pilot program with the City of Akron and Portage Path Behavioral Health to form a new team to help people in crisis. The team is made up of paramedics, a police officer, and a clinician in unique unforms and is dispatched through 9-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm. After data from the pilot is collected and reviewed, the pilot may be expanded to additional Summit County communities.


May is also Foster Care Month, which uplifts the over 463,000 youth in the United States in foster care, including over 900 children in the custody of Summit County Childrens Services (SCCS). The SCCS team supports children who cannot safely remain with their families by placing them in foster care. There are currently 138 foster families in Summit County that have stepped up for these children, but there is still a need for more foster families.


“Summit County Childrens Services does admirable work for children and families going through difficult times,” said Executive Shapiro, “I encourage any family with the ability and love to care for children in need to consider becoming a foster family. Caring and supportive homes are crucial to helping our youth lead happy, healthy, vibrant lives.”


Residents interested in learning more about foster care can call 330-379-1990 or visit

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