Campaign for Multnomah County #1 – Jules Bailey

Jules Bailey, County Commission Candidate

Jules Bailey, County Commission Candidate

Numbers of persons with untreated mental illness and addiction continue to climb in Multnomah County. Why? Is this a priority for you?

Multnomah County is facing an epidemic of mental health and addiction crises. As a State Representative, I’ve worked hard to provide more funding for mental health and addiction programs, to require mental health parity, and to construct better mental health facilities across Oregon. But state action is not enough. We need the County, the layer of government closest to people in need, to be an effective service provider. We closed the sub-acute facility in 2006 and we’ve scaled back other services. It is no wonder that without better access to services the numbers of persons with untreated mental illness continue to rise, and that the number one place people receive mental health and addiction treatment is in jail.

As County Commissioner, I’ll make improving mental health and addiction services, and reversing this trend, a top priority. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the creation of Coordinated Care Organizations, gives the County an important opportunity to improve access and outcomes. In addition, HB 3194, which I helped pass in the legislature, will provide state funding for programs that reduce recidivism, increase crime prevention, and keep people out of prison. Using these dollars to improve mental health and addiction services can help the County meet state benchmarks, and reduce costs in the justice system.

Do you have personal experience with mental illness, addiction or homelessness?

I grew up in a family that was shaped by mental illness. My stepmother suffers from severe bipolar disorder, and it took years to get her on disability. We relied on a single paycheck from my father, and his health insurance, and we struggled financially. We also helped care for my uncle, who struggled with serious addiction. And yet we were among the lucky families – we had a home, a reliable paycheck, and health insurance. Too few families can count on that.

My personal experience has helped shaped my passion for improving mental health services and access to them. When I began my career as an economist, I worked on a contract to evaluate evidence based practice in addiction and mental health services, especially in the correction system. We know what programs are effective, but I found too little accountability, and too much reliance on services that weren’t impacting people’s lives. As Commissioner, I’ll focus on what works, improve service delivery, and focus on accountability. I will support an audit of mental health services to help us get there.

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.