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January 17, 2014 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Tina Edlund, acting director

Community mental health services: investing in hope

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be."
~Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Last summer, Governor Kitzhaber and the Legislature made an unprecedented investment in community mental health services, with almost $40 million going to the community mental health system. Then the Legislature invested an additional $20 million during the September special session. This showed a significant commitment to ensuring Oregonians have access to the critical mental health services they need. I provided an update about these investments during this week's Legislative Days.

As wonderful as this news of additional funding was for children, adults and families throughout Oregon, we faced a tall task. We were challenged to do things differently, to build-in accountability, and to put this funding to work as soon as possible. I'm happy to say our community mental health partners and the staff of Addictions and Mental Health (AMH) rose to the occasion. Thank you to everyone who participated in the application process. We appreciate how hard everyone pushed to meet the deadlines and the work they put into the proposals.

So far, we have identified recipients for more than 85 percent of the funding. We have notified all of the recipients, and AMH will post the full list of programs receiving new funding on its website next week. These investments will affect all parts of the state. Our goal was to fund specific services and system expansions that focused on promoting community health and wellness, keeping children healthy, and helping adults with mental illness live successfully in the community.

For example, we are expanding the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) so more young adults with symptoms of psychosis can be identified and benefit from early treatment; the Oregon Psychiatric Access Line for Kids (OPAL-K) will enable primary care physicians throughout the state to consult with psychiatrists to better help children experiencing behavioral issues; and, through services such as crisis response, supported housing and employment, and assertive community treatment, people with severe and persistent mental illness will have the tools they need to live, work and thrive in their communities.

Thanks to these investments, we will begin to see improvements in the community mental health system in a matter of months. As communities begin to implement new programs and services, we'll be talking more about the impact of these investments across the state.

OHA on the web