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Portage County Mental Health & Recovery Board Welcomes New Leader

John Garrity, Executive Director
John Garrity, PhD, is the new Executive Director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage county

Portage County has a new leader for its Mental Health & Recovery Board. John Garrity is taking over for retiring Joel Mowery.  Garrity brings 18 years experience in mental health and addiction services to the Portage County agency.

Managing care

Your agency, like other Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Boards in Ohio seems to be a kind of clearing house to guide care?   “The Boards are designated by Ohio revised code to be the main entity to plan monitor and fund services.  So we have that ability to work across agencies.  To work with schools, law enforcement, with treatment and preventative agencies and community organizations.”

A frequent concern in the world of mental health is the stigma attached to mental illness. “People often are worried about that and we don’t want that to discourage them from seeking help.”

Credit NIH website
NIH website
Images of the brain during recovery effort


Is there also a problem with the public, and patients lacking confidence that rehab actually works, especially with the recent opioid crisis?  “That’s another huge misunderstanding with alcohol and addiction treatment. “Addiction is a chronic illness and sometimes it takes repeated efforts.  Sometimes it can be a relapse rate of maybe 20 percent to 40 percent.  With opioids, because they are so addictive, so physiologically addictive to the brain, the rates can be as high as 80 percent.”  

So, in terms of the public’s perception, relapses and returning multiple times for treatment should be “normal” in a sense?  “Studies show that even with quitting smoking, it can take six or eight attempts before someone successfully gets away from the nicotine addiction.”


Are there new challenges or new approaches to mental health and addiction services emerging? “Trauma is a new emerging area of both mental health and addiction treatment. It’s always really been there, but people are starting to recognize the role of traumatic life events—perhaps from something like a combat situation, or trauma in childhood- in developing behavioral mental illness, and addiction problems.”


What drew you to the job with Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County?  “The history of great collaboration among the county agencies, care givers, government, and community. Collaboration is how you get things done.”