Considering how the opioid crisis has become a health crisis in central Ohio, Grove City will attempt to address the issue with a more holistic approach.

City Council on Feb. 3 approved legislation to form a substance addiction and mental health action-plan committee for the community.

Creating an opioid action plan was one of the goals council set for 2019, council president Christine Houk said.

“What’s resulted after a year’s time was a broadening of the concept of this to be an action plan related to substance abuse and mental health,” she said. “Those two topics are intrinsically linked to each other.”

Many petty theft and shoplifting crimes are committed by opioid addicts who resort to crime to get the money they need to support their habit, Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said.

“We’re trying to address this issue in a more empathetic way,” he said.

Opioid addiction and mental health “have become as prevalent for each of us as cancer,” Houk said. “(All of us) have been touched in some way by issues of addiction or mental health.

“This is a strategy for our community to fight together for the health of our community,” she said.

The resolution council approved Feb. 3 was jointly sponsored by Houk and Stage.

“In my experience and research, I believe the best way to handle this is through a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach,” Houk said.

The committee will create an action plan for the community by including representatives from various groups that already have programs at work, including the city’s police department, Jackson Township Division of Fire, South-Western City Schools, health-care providers, drug and mental health treatment centers and churches, she said.

“This committee will be comprised of members of all of those communities and will be looking for ways they can leverage each others’ programs to accomplish as much as possible,” Houk said.

The legislation also will establish a pilot program and create a substance addiction and mental health advocate position in partnership with Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County.

The advocate will be a consultant assigned to the city from the ADAMH board, “as a person to work with not only the person who has a problem and the ones who have been arrested, but the family and the peripheral impact of what’s going on in the opioid crisis,” Stage said.

Along with helping those with addiction or mental health illnesses with treatment and service options, the consultant also would serve as the primary point person for city staff.

The legislation also specifies the advocate would assist the city prosecutor with referrals from Grove City Mayor’s Court or municipal court to the Franklin County Recovery Court or other treatment options, provide a local contact to help determine treatment options, divert a person when appropriate into treatment instead of incarceration and serve as a resource for affected family members.

“We’re going to be tackling this thing in a way hopefully that will be more impactful for an ongoing strategy,” Stage said.