Letter to Gov. Brown about students and mental illness

Sent by email January 19, 2021

Dear Governor Brown,

First, thank you again for appearing virtually at our December 2020 Oregon Housing Conference to welcome the 450+ attendees. Your comments were thoughtful in the midst of the crisis of our lifetime.

Members and supporters of the Mental Health Association of Portland appreciate your concern for the students of Oregon and ask that you make a public comment about the resources available to get students assessed for mental illness.

We know from friends. family members, and from reports in the papers, that students have suffered extraordinary stress with the pandemic. As advocates for people with mental illness, we know some of these students have the privilege of resiliency, supportive family members, and coping skills – but some students do not and need support and may show signs of illness. That support begins with a judgment-free assessment by a medical professional who can reassure parents, or make a referral for further help.

An assessment for mental illness should be available from any medical provider, through public insurance or commercial insurance, and in most communities there are medical providers who will gladly do an assessment for students who might still be uninsured. Parents need to be reminded that the mental health of their children is important to care for just like physical health.

An early assessment gives parents and healthcare providers a chance to intervene, to provide services, and support to a young person before a crisis erupts and harsher, more harmful tools must be used. Early intervention reduces criminality, self-harm and suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction, reduces school drop-outs, improves future employability, and likely increases an individual’s ability to be self-sustaining during their life. It’s a great investment for Oregon.

Governor Brown, make the beginning of recovery from mental illness with a medical assessment a feature of your conversation with Oregonians as we all deal with the pandemic and its economic and social consequences.

Thanks!

Members of the Board of the Mental Health Association of Portland

Mental Health Association of Portland
PO Box 3641, Portland Oregon 97208
www.mentalhealthportland.org
info @ mentalhealthportland.org