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DHS news release

April 26, 2007

Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
Program contact: Mike Morris 503-947-5539

Mental health treatment shown to reduce arrests, school expulsions

The success of community treatment for mental health disorders is illustrated by reported reductions in arrests of adults and reductions in school suspensions and expulsions for youths.

That good mental health is essential to a strong society and individual success is among the points Governor Ted Kulongoski makes in his proclamation of May as Mental Health Month in Oregon. "Individuals with mental illness can lead full and productive lives through treatment and recovery," the Governor says in the proclamation, "with early detection, diagnosis and treatment greatly increasing the likelihood of restored health."

Data reported by the Oregon Department of Human Services show reductions in arrests of nearly 70 percent for both youths and adults. The data compare arrest rates a year after treatment began with those a year prior to treatment.

In addition, data from treatment providers show a 56 percent reduction in school suspensions and expulsions of adolescents a year after treatment began.

Community mental health treatment is available across Oregon from county governments and more than 100 private nonprofit providers. Anyone interested in learning about mental health treatment services may contact the local county's mental health department, listed in the blue government pages of the phone book.

Overall, the 1,477 Oregonians with mental illness served in state-operated psychiatric hospitals during fiscal 2006 accounted for 2 percent of all those served.

Bob Nikkel, DHS assistant director for addictions and mental health, said publicly financed services, needed by many people with severe mental illnesses, reach just 35 percent of the nearly 108,000 children and adolescents and 44 percent of the nearly 162,000 adults estimated to experience severe emotional disorders or mental illnesses in any given year. In all, nearly 110,000 children, adolescents and adults received publicly financed treatment in fiscal 2006.

In the proclamation, the Governor notes the state's intent to replace aging Oregon State Hospital and strengthen the community mental health system that supports it.

Among recent accomplishments and initiatives, Nikkel said, are:

  • The Governor's recommendation to site 620-bed and 360-bed state hospitals in Salem and Junction City, respectively, to replace aging Oregon State Hospital in Salem.
  • A successful Early Assessment and Support Team initiative in Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook and Yamhill counties, which provides effective services to adolescents and young adults experiencing their first psychotic episodes. The Governor has recommended in his 2007-09 budget that the program be expanded to four more large counties or four multi-county regions.
  • More than $500,000 in state grants for mental health housing in Clackamas, Linn, Multnomah, Umatilla and Wallowa counties; opening of Eastern Oregon's first secure residential facility for people with severe mental illness; and the planned opening in Oregon City of the state's first residential treatment facility for voluntary adolescents and young adults ages 16-24.
  • Strengthened efforts to recruit psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses to Oregon's state hospitals, including a contract with the Oregon Health and Science University to provide a chief psychiatrist and up to six physicians.
  • Encouraging 180 treatment providers, county administrators, prevention specialists, health plans and mental health organizations to be more aggressive in helping people with mental illness quit tobacco, including promising state technical assistance and possibly a smoking-cessation curriculum for mental health counselors. People with addictions or mental illnesses smoke an estimated 44 percent of cigarettes sold in the U.S.

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