May 11, 2012 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

Children's mental health

"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted." ~ Garrison Keillor

There are a few fundamental truths that are at the center of our work to improve the health system in Oregon. One is that early intervention and prevention services improve health and reduce costs. Another is that we can no longer have a system that separates physical and behavioral health care.

One area of focus where this is particularly true is in mental health care for children. Today, some 104,000 children in our state are estimated to need mental health services. Better-coordinated care and services that truly meet the needs of families can make the difference between a lifetime of health and a lifetime of struggle. And as we mark National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week this week, it's a good time to look at successful initiatives in our state that are worth both celebrating and emulating.

The Statewide Children's Wraparound Initiative, for example, has had amazing success taking a team-based approach for foster children. The challenges facing these children so early in their lives can cause behavioral issues that make it difficult to be successful. Under this program, children find stability with a team of people who help meet their physical, mental and social support needs, leading to increased stability, more permanent living situations, and better performance at school.

Another successful effort is Oregon's Early Assessment and Support Alliance. EASA is available in 18 counties and works with young people in the early stages of schizophrenia and psychosis. Through a coordinated approach, EASA helps avoid hospitalizations, arrests and incarcerations and improves educational success, employment and family stability. Participants in the program have seen a 79 percent drop in hospitalizations and have a reduced arrest rate that went from more than 13 percent to less than 2 percent.

You can also find more information about these projects, volunteer opportunities and much more on the Children's Mental Health web page. If you have concerns about a child in your life, contact your local community mental health program.

These programs and others like them point the direction to a new model of care that can profoundly change lives. We look to the day when all children have the support they need to live at the height of their capability and participate fully in their communities and in life.

OHA on the web