COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — Governor Mike DeWine has announced a plan to increase the number of behavioral healthcare providers to meet growing demand.

The planned investment of $85 million of federal funds aims to make education more affordable for students committed to behavioral healthcare careers.

The funding will be dedicated to enhancing paid internship and scholarship opportunities for students working to achieve behavioral health certifications and degrees at Ohio colleges and other educational career development settings.

Over twenty percent of Ohioans live with a mental health condition or substance use disorder, and nearly 2.4 million Ohioans live in communities that do not have enough behavioral health professionals.

study completed in 2021 by OhioMHAS, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, InnovateOhio, and Deloitte found that the demand for behavioral healthcare services in Ohio increased 353% from 2013-2019 while the workforce increased only 174% over the same time period.

This initial $85 million investment is part of the $212 million available in the Home and Community-Based Services Workforce Development Strategic Fund through the Ohio Department of Medicaid as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Earlier this year, the Administration shared plans to invest these dollars in provider relief, workforce, and technology and systems enhancements.

This investment will also fund recruitment and retention bonuses for students who commit to employment with Ohio’s community mental health and addiction centers which provide care, treatment, and services to Ohio’s Medicaid-eligible population.

Once the proposal is finalized and approved and funding is appropriated, the program will be administered through the Ohio Department of Medicaid in partnership with the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.