No Progress – NAMI’s grade for Oregon remains a C

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has released another national survey of state mental health services. Their last survey, in 2006, graded Oregon’s state mental health services with a C.

READ – NAMI’s 2006 Oregon State Report Card.

In the past three years the state’s grade has been negligible, according to NAMI. Their survey again in 2009 gives Oregon a C grade. Thousands of meetings, thousands of letters, calls and emails – according to NAMI, no progress.

READ – NAMI’s 2009 Oregon State Report Card.

Progress was made in both adjoining states. Idaho moved from an F grade to a D grade. Washington State moved from a D grade to a C grade. The national average remains the same from 2006 to 2009 – a national D.

To some extent, NAMI’s survey shows the health and interest of state bureaucracy; states receiving an F grade in 2009 are Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming.

It’s difficult to judge any state’s mental health system. Typically data systems are not comparable, data collection is suspect or poor, local bureaucrats are uncooperative, local goals and needs are different. And through NAMI’s priorities have been set by it’s corporate funders, it remains probably the only national organization capable of creating this sort of survey. Their national staff are suitably savvy and experienced, and probably learned a great deal with the 2006 survey. Though we’ll bicker, we’re glad to see them back.

Agreement with the survey will be found from mental health advocates on one point. Through the Oregon state mental health bureaucracy has trumpeted its collegial relations with consumers and family members, NAMI gives those state bureaucrats an F grade, based on rating eight strategic areas. This failing grade – which many other states do poorly in as well – pulls the state average down considerably.