Study on mental health care ranks Oregon last

OPB News, Nov. 9, 2015

mind storm 3A study looking at mental health care among states has ranked Oregon dead last.

The president of Mental Health America, Paul Gionfriddo, said researchers considered 13 elements for the ranking: from the number of residents with mental illness to access to care.

“Oregon does generally poorly on the prevalence of mental illness ranking,” he said. “In other words, there are more children and adults with mental illnesses; with dependence on alcohol or drugs; with serious thoughts of suicide.”

The study also looked at factors like how many people have access to insurance, whether that insurance is adequate, and how high are the barriers to accessing mental health care.

Minnesota was ranked at the top of the list for its mental health care, while Idaho and Washington also ranked near the bottom — coming in at 45th and 47th, respectively.

When looking only at access to care, Oregon did better in the study, ranking 21st.

Despite the low ranking, Chis Bouneff with the Oregon chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness defended mental health care in the state, saying the data used were from 2013.

“It’s very old data,” he said.

“Oftentimes the difference between 2015 and 2013, those two years, may not be a big deal. But because you had a seminal event under the Affordable Care Act, in that we expanded Medicaid, it’s hard to look at this data right now and use it to really inform future policies,” Bouneff said.

Both Bouneff and Gionfriddo say they expect Oregon to do better when new data are included next year.