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A Load off The Mind: $27.9M Pumped Into Portland’s Struggling Mental Health System

A Load off The Mind: $27.9M Pumped Into Portland’s Struggling Mental Health System

In a bold move to address the alarming disparities between the soaring demand for behavioral health services and the system’s capacity, Health Share, Oregon’s largest coordinated care organization, along with four collaborative partners, announced significant investments to bolster mental health and substance use disorder resources. This announcement comes on the heels of a damning report from the Oregon Health Authority, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced behavioral health services.

The total investment of $27.9 million aims to provide much-needed support to both children and adults grappling with acute mental health and substance use disorders. This funding will enhance services at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health by adding drop-off withdrawal management services and establishing new outpatient bridge clinics at Unity Center and Randall Children’s Pediatric Care Clinic. Additionally, the funds will support a feasibility study for a new 48-bed inpatient behavioral health unit at Providence Portland and a behavioral health capacity modeling initiative with Oregon Health & Science University.

“Health Share and our collaborative partners are committed to making meaningful and actionable investments in the Portland area to address behavioral health,” said Mindy Stadtlander, CEO of Health Share. “These four investments build on the work we’ve been doing with Providence’s Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE), which has given us a much better understanding of the scope and nature of our mental health and substance use crises and allowed us to prioritize our investments based on where we can make the greatest impact. I’m proud of the commitment that Health Share and our partners have made to closing gaps to better care for people in crisis.”

The importance of these investments cannot be overstated. Central City Concern, a founding member of the Health Share collaborative and one of the region’s largest behavioral health service providers, has witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of limited behavioral health capacity amid rising community needs.

“Providing expanded mental health services, and substance use treatment including withdrawal support, is absolutely critical for the Portland region,” said Andy Mendenhall, CEO of Central City Concern. “We need additional capacity across the continuum of care to address our ongoing acuity crisis. I applaud this commitment from some of the region’s top health care organizations to take action in such a significant way. I’m proud that Central City Concern can be part of the evolution of this work, and optimistic about the positive change this will create for many of the most vulnerable people living in our community.”

These substantial investments mark a pivotal step toward addressing the chronic underfunding and overstretched resources in Oregon’s behavioral health system. Witnessing the struggles and resilience within our community, it’s heartening to see such a dedicated effort to bridge the gaps in care. These measures will not only provide immediate relief but also lay the groundwork for a more robust and responsive behavioral health infrastructure, ensuring that those in crisis can find the support they so desperately need.

~ S. Green

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