The statistics are alarming. Suicide has been the leading cause of death for Oregon's young people since 1981. And, Oregon's youth currently hold the top spot for depression, according to Mental Health America's recent release of its annual State of Mental Health in America 2020, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on several mental health and access measures.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for a system as complicated as youth mental health. Oregon's community leaders and agencies have further identified a large gap in services for children and teens experiencing a mental health crisis who also have an intellectual and/or developmental disability (IDD). Currently, these kids are inappropriately placed in settings that do not adequately meet their needs.
Many of these young people receive care in emergency rooms (ERs), which are designed for physical health emergencies. ERs are not equipped to provide the mental health services and support that children, teens, and their families need to address immediate or long-term mental health care. And, there are almost no viable options in our current system to meet the specialized needs of those who also have IDD.
Kerr is committed to finding solutions so children, teens, and their families can survive and thrive. Just like physical health, taking care of mental health struggles early can help prevent more serious problems from developing in the future.
As an Oregon nonprofit known for providing services for those with IDD, as well as services for youth experiencing mental health challenges, Kerr is expanding its mental health programs for children and teens.
Last year, Kerr helped nearly 700 children with mental health challenges and 500 children and adults with an IDD.
This year, Kerr will increase its outpatient mental health caseload by 42 percent.
And, in 2020, Kerr will expand its current crisis psychiatric facility by adding six beds that will provide specialized care and stabilization for children and teens experiencing a mental health crisis, and who also have an IDD.
It's time to take a stand for Oregon's children and teens. Let's move Oregon from last place to first.