Increasing mental health and addiction services have not been a legislative priority for the County in recent years. Why do you think this was so?
Increasing funding for mental health and addiction services has long been a legislative priority for Multnomah County, and I have personally testified and fought for more funding. In fact, last session, we were part of a successful effort to increase state funding for youth mental health services.
Moreover, Multnomah County is one of the few counties that invests its own general fund dollars in mental health, spending almost $17 million annually to supplement state and federal funding. In addiction services, Multnomah County invests over $3 million general fund dollars annually because we know that every dollar invested in treatment yields a cost offset of up to $11 in other social services.
Multnomah County plays critical link in the mental health system – from our 24/7 crisis line, walk in clinic, mobile crisis team to contracting with providers for mental health services. With our community partners—local governments, not-for-profits, and hospitals, among others—we provide a full range of mental health services, including prevention services, treatment, peer counseling, and housing assistance.
However, since it is estimated that half of all Americans will struggle with a mental health issue at some point, I believe we all need to continue to work together and advocate for more funding.
We also need to be funding what works. I have heard from mental health providers that to get additional funding, there is pressure to create a new program – and that’s just wrong.
Our mental health care providers know what works – and that’s what we need to be investing in – the best, most effective treatment models. A focus on what works is what I offer and will bring to Multnomah County as chair.
As a county commissioner I advocated for peer-delivered services and will continue to do so as Chair. Thanks to advocacy from community members, Multnomah County now financially supports the Northstar Clubhouse. I am also a strong advocate for Folktime, an organization that supports people living with mental illness.
Finally, because of the Affordable Care Act, many more people will have access to mental health and addictions services through the Oregon Health Plan or private insurance providers. I believe there will be savings to the county, which will result in greater investments in mental health and addictions treatment, and other important priorities, such as affordable housing.
Contact: Deborah Kafoury for Multnomah County Chair
Eds. Note – After an election filing deadline, supporters of the Mental Health Association of Portland query all area candidates of contested races about issues important to us and post the responses to our web site. Queries and posting do not imply endorsement; the organization does not endorse candidates. Spelling and typographical errors are amended because we abhor text errors. See all candidate responses at Candidates 2014.