"Removing Barriers to Mental Health Services in Ohio" a Memo from The Buckeye Institute

Memo reviewed by Daniel Estupiñan, HKS MPP, Amy Mahler, HKS MPA/MC, and Katie Wesdyk, HKS MPP

Mental Health

The Buckeye Institute provided a memo recommending the removal of barriers to mental health services in Ohio. A case is made to recognize out-of-state practitioners permanently to provide mental health support, but lacks a clear connection from problem to proposed solution.

The short memo immediately identifies a recommendation before introducing the problem. The problem statement provided in the background fails to address how mental health has been harmed and the impact expected after the pandemic. The memo’s persuasiveness is constrained by a lack of data, story, or decision-making technique. The bulk of the memo is background, explaining why the regulation change was made during the pandemic without providing any justification for why the regulation should continue.

The memo’s tone is relatively formal, with the language effectively informing the reader about the statutory and regulatory background of licensure programs. It does so without using jargon that could restrict the accessibility of the information to stakeholders outside of healthcare policy. The memo’s writing is also clear and effectively summarizes complex concepts in mental health services, which many struggle to access.

The solution, however, is presented without considering other options. The recommendation feels broad, not identifying what problems it would solve. While the context of the pandemic is clear, who and how this recommendation can be applied to is unclear. Is this policy recommendation for Ohioans newly returned home to be able to practice? For app-based telehealth practitioners to help patients in Ohio? One would have to read between the lines to determine this exact context—not helpful during a crisis.