Advocates take the naming of an agency seriously | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

Advocates take the naming of an agency seriously

September 4, 2012
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Mental health and addiction treatment advocates in Ohio would like to see “behavioral health” out and “recovery” in when it comes to settling on a name for the new consolidated state agency for mental health and addiction services.

The state has been seeking public input on a name for the combining Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) and Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS), and through Sept. 5 it is accepting online comments on a list of six finalists. The Ohio chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has weighed in behind the name “Ohio Department of Mental Health and Recovery Services,” although it has asked individuals living with addiction to make their views heard on the use of “recovery” in the name.

“Our only reason to recommend Mental Health and Recovery Services is because many Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Boards have begun referring to themselves as Mental Health and Recovery Services Boards because they have found it helpful in [garnering] community support for their levies and other work,” NAMI Ohio wrote in a memorandum to the advocacy community.

NAMI Ohio added that its board of directors remains unanimously opposed to any use of the term “behavioral” in the state agency’s name. “The people we represent do not have behavioral problems; they have a biological brain disorder that we call mental illness,” it wrote. “The behavior is simply a symptom of the illness.”

We certainly have come to learn over the years that the field cares deeply about the vocabulary that policy-makers and the public affix to it. Faces & Voices of Recovery recommends that individuals in recovery refer to themselves as just that, as opposed to an “addict” or “alcoholic,” while other treatment and recovery support leaders have sought to move away from the terms “client” or “patient” in treatment settings because these words do not emphasize a partnership with healthcare providers.

Visit for more information about how this subject is playing out in naming the consolidated state agency. What are your thoughts on these issues of language?



Interesting and intriguing article. However, maybe they should just go with "Recovery Services" since recovery and the recovery concept have been extensively adopted in mental health (which might be also better termed "mental wellness").

Gary Enos


Gary Enos

Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He also...

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