Top Oregon Nonprofits Serve those with Mental Illness

Nonprofit organizations spent over half a billion dollars in 2007 to serve persons with mental illness in the Portland metro area.

The Portland Business Journal just published their 2008 / 2009 Book of Giving listing top nonprofits in the metro area. Many of the organizations, 29 out of 147, provide direct services for persons with mental illness and addiction.

An additional 16 out of the 147 provide services specific for persons who are low-income or at risk, two demographic areas which more often than not widely include persons with mental illness and addition.

The PBJ’s list includes religious nonprofits, but not churches themselves.

According to the PBJ, these combined 45 organizations had budgets in 2007 of about $569,800,000 and employed approximately 10,849 staff persons.

Although we’re grateful for these organization and the hard work of their professionals and volunteers, $569 million dollars is an enormous amount of money, spread in an uncoordinated way, which is attempting to fix and enormous set of problems.

Many of these organizations receiving government funds for providing services, but it’s not known what the total amount of money spent on providing services for persons with mental illness is in Oregon.

If you add the costs of jails, prisons, the state hospitals, the direct care from county managed clinics, private outpatient and inpatient care, and alternative medicines care, the cost could approach a billion dollars per year.

This is a conservative estimate. In 1999 a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry estimated the annual cost of mental disorders nationwide at $204 billion. Societal costs, such as loss of productivity and the burden on family caregivers, total $113 billion.

We hope a smart local foundation interested in research and evidence-based outcomes, like the Murdock Charitable Trust or the Collins Foundation, will soon fund an audit of our mental health and addictions services, and seek to find the amount spent annually on treatment services.