DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Data shows mental health issues were a factor in more than 300 calls for emergency crews in Montgomery County in 2022. This drove county leaders to take action to support the community and first responders.

County commissioner Carolyn Rice set a goal for her second term to improve mental health in the county. On Tuesday, county leaders and the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association signed the behavioral health initiative.

“Our county has faced enormous challenges in the past few years,” Commissioner Carolyn Rice said.

“On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had other significant events like the tornadoes, and the Oregon District mass shooting, that brought people into our hospitals in search of behavioral health care and substance abuse treatment.”

The initiative creates a task force made up of medical professionals, patients and community partners. Together, they plan to scan community hospitals to see what patients and providers need.

The Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association says that’s key with so many people going to hospitals due to mental health issues.

“Together, we addressed the challenges of COVID-19,” Sarah Hackenbracht, President and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said.

“We all want what’s best for our community, and right now, we see behavioral health as one of the most pressing issues for citizens of Montgomery County.”

The county is pledging $150,000 to get the task force up and running. County leaders say the priorities and needs of the community will determine how much money will be put into the project.

In a month, they hope to have a full plan ready to vote on.