Legislation Aims to Boost Mental Health Services

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, March 25 2013 at 6:07 PM, Updated: Mon, March 25 2013 at 6:28 PM

A new bill just introduced in the Oregon Senate is looking to boost mental health services statewide.

"There's more need than resource that's for sure. We'd love to be able to serve everybody [...] we have some money but not enough to go around," said Stacy Brubaker, Division Manager for Jackson County Health.

She said funding has been dwindling and the tightening belt is  trickling down to other areas.

"We're taking at least one if not more than one person a day into protective custody for mental health issues," said Deputy Chief Tim Doney with the Medford Police Department.

There are only 18 beds available to serve roughly 550,000 people regionally at Rogue Regional Medical Center.

"The issues are getting bigger and bigger," said Deputy Chief Doney.

However, now Oregon lawmakers are looking to change things with Senate Bill 823.

The legislationl would create new programs and expand on existing ones to provide more mental health services statewide. It would use "...all available sources of public and private funds."

"A lot of times you get money to start new programs but it doesn't necessarily talk about the sustainability of those programs," said Brubaker.

Long-term and sustained patient recovery is addressed in the bill, so is providing tools and training to identify early signs of mental illness, access to treatment, and an emphasis on serving young adults between ages 15-25.

The plan sounds good to Brubaker, but she says she's concerned if the money to expand mental health services will take away from other important programs in the community.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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