Belmont County, OH (WTRF)-As the US continues to battle addiction and mental health issues, US Senator Sherrod Brown has plans to help Ohio out.

The Senator heard from Belmont County health leaders and patients about the needs locally during a roundtable discussion on Tuesday.

US Senator Sherrod Brown tells me the needs in Belmont and Jefferson counties are no different than the state or country, and COVID-19 didn’t help any.

He points to the social and economic impacts on mental health and how it’s grown. In 2020 alone, more than 5,000 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses. Overdose deaths have continued to go up in Belmont County year after year. From 2019 to 2020, overdose deaths in Belmont county jumped nearly 65%, and Ohio’s suicide rates have also gone up.

That’s why Senator Brown says it’s more important than ever to address the problem.

“I just think it’s important that we all recognize the physical illness in this country. We still don’t recognize mental illness as the persistent problem that it is, and there are nurses and doctors that want to help.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D) Ohio

Senator Brown wants to help our communities find assistance when it comes to mental health. He touched on the transportation issues locally. He says there are limited resources to help people in rural communities get to the care they need.

The Senator hopes to continue to help fight the addiction and mental health issues throughout the state, including here locally.