GREENE COUNTY — CEO of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, and President of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities Dr. Kent Youngman is paving the way for his retirement. After more than 32 years of public service in the mental health field, Dr. Youngman has announced that he will be retiring Dec. 31.
“It’s been a fulfilling, interesting and a very challenging career,” Dr. Youngman said. “I feel good about my contributions that I’ve been able to make to the community and I can leave knowing that the system is in good hands and we’ll move forward in a positive direction.”
He grew up in Mt. Vernon and attended college at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t have a specific plan, so I took different courses,” said Dr. Youngman. “But, there was one class that I was very interested in and that was psychology. I found it interesting so I stuck with it.”
His studies took him from being a juvenile probation officer in Newark to a master’s student at the University of Dayton after getting married and moving to the Dayton area. After receiving his master’s degree in clinical psychology in 1984, he had a choice between two jobs. One position was back in Mt. Vernon in the area of developmental disabilities and the other was in Dayton to work with children with emotional and behavioral issues. Since his interests were with helping children, he decided Dayton was the best fit for him. He accepted a position with the Greene County Learning Center as a mental health therapist.
“Prior to my being there, they’d never had a mental health therapist that stayed longer than a year or two. I ended up staying there for 15 years and I ended up being the director of the mental health portion of the program.”
While working with the Greene County Learning Center, he attended University of Cincinnati in their doctoral program in clinical mental health and graduated in that program in 1996. His doctorate opened up many avenues in Dr. Youngman’s career and was soon named The President of the Board since 1999 and became the CEO in 2009.
“One of the biggest accomplishments made during my time with the Mental Health Recovery Board, and my most fulfilling, was taking the board from an organization that was not as involved in the community as it is now,” Dr. Youngman said. “We now function in six different coalitions either for substance abuse or suicide prevention. We do a lot of training and a lot of community engagement and involvement in a number of different areas. That was something that was appropriate to do and I feel good about accomplishing that.”
One of the largest growing issues in the communities he has seen in his long running term is the alarming problems with opiate pain medications and other drugs such as heroin. Instead of being a regional problem, he confirms what many experts have said in the past, that it’s a widespread issue that every community is facing. He indicated that Ohio is either the 4th or 5th worst in the nation in terms of the addiction rate per capita. “Ohio is really struggling and having a hard time,” said Dr. Youngman.
“We are also seeing dramatic and more problematic changes in younger children displaying pretty serious mental health issue. That’s changed a lot over the years,” Dr. Youngman said. “There’s always the problem with attention deficit disorders but, I’m talking about anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorders, and contemplation on suicides.”
Dr. Youngman credits the strength of the board, agencies and staff working for the Mental Health Board and their dedication to keep the agencies moving forward by looking for varies ways to implement the recovery oriented system of care that he has helped put into place.
“I’m confident that those things will continue,” he added.
Dr. Youngman is looking forward to retirement and spending more time with his family; however, he will continue his teachings at Wright State University and what that leads to in the future.
Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.