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DHS news release


May 6, 2008


Program contact: Bob Nikkel, 503-945-9704

General contact: Ken Palke, 503-947-5286


Governor proclaims May as Oregon Mental Health Month



Mental health disorders affect Oregonians of every age and walk of life, and each year approximately 110,000 persons – any one of whom might be a relative, friend or neighbor – receive treatment and find support for recovery from mental illness.


Even though most Oregonians know someone with mental illness, many people still are uncomfortable discussing the subject.


“It’s the 21st century and there is still this misunderstanding, even stigma, about persons with mental illness,” said Bob Nikkel, Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) assistant director for addictions and mental health. “Statistics tell us that one in five persons will receive mental health care at some time, so it touches a lot of lives.”


Nikkel said many individuals with mental illness are in recovery and leading productive and fulfilling lives. Many are somewhere on the continuum of mental health care, ranging from use of peer-delivered services, to outpatient visits with mental health professionals, or treatment in residential facilities or the Oregon State Hospital. Restoration of health for each individual is the goal.


In proclaiming May as Mental Health Month in Oregon, Gov. Ted Kulongoski said that both mental and physical health are key ingredients to a strong and vibrant society. He asked Oregonians to support recovery programs for those with mental illness.


The proclamation urgedall individuals, agencies and organizations to recognize the importance of providing early detection and treatment for individuals with mental health needs.”

The proclamation also noted that service providers, advocates and consumers are working to strengthen community-based mental health programs so that individuals may seek treatment nearer home. And state officials are finalizing plans to replace the outmoded Oregon State Hospital in Salem with two modern state psychiatric recovery centers in Salem (620 beds) and Junction City (360 beds).


Mental Health Month activities include the following events:

  • May 6-9: The Oregon Family Support Network is hosting Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week events from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day in the Barbara Roberts Human Services Building lobby, 500 Summer St. NE, Salem. OFSN supports family members, adolescents and children with mental, emotional and behavioral-related disorders. OFSN provides support groups, training and other mental health information to family members and concerned citizens.

  • May 18: The National Alliance on Mental Illness Oregon chapter is holding the 2008 NAMI Northwest Walk, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Vera Katz East Bank Esplanade in Portland. The 2.8-mile walking event is a fundraiser for projects to improve the lives of persons affected by serious mental illness. NAMI has affiliates in 18 Oregon counties.