Support mental health

Support mental health

College of Health

We are working toward better mental health, well-being and resilience. We’re leveraging resources, research and partnerships to meet this urgent state and national crisis.

We are working toward better mental health, well-being and resilience and helping Oregon improve its ranking as one the worst states in the nation in indicators of mental health.

Youth mental and behavioral health in Oregon ranks just as poorly as overall mental health indicators, with suicide as the leading cause of death for young adults in 2018. These problems are exacerbated by other socioeconomic and health issues, such as poverty, food insecurity, opioid addiction and more.

By leveraging strengths across the university in areas such as the arts and sciences, business, pharmacy and more — as well as through collaborations with our community partners — the college is poised to provide solutions that improve lifelong mental health, including community-based programming that empowers youth and families to thrive.

Youth and their families

When children grow up in a safe and nurturing home and have opportunities to learn — and time to interact and build relationships with other children — they are more likely to reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, more than one in five youth experience three or more significant adverse experiences during their childhood, putting them at major risk for poor mental, behavioral and physical health and reduced life potential.

The need for a safe and nurturing home and community is especially true for youth with mental, behavioral and developmental disorders. Disorders such as anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning problems often begin in early childhood and can affect lifelong health and well-being.

According to the CDC, about one in seven U.S. children ages 2-8 have a mental, behavioral and/or developmental disorder reported by a parent.

Oregon families with young and school-aged children face numerous difficulties in providing safe and secure home life. About 15 percent of Oregon children under age 18 fell below the poverty line in 2017, and 44 percent of single mothers and 17 percent of couples with children experienced food insecurity in 2013-15. Families of youth with mental, behavioral and developmental disorders confront personal, financial and neighborhood challenges more often than families of children without these difficulties. These challenges make it harder for some parents to give their child the resources they need to thrive.


Working with communities

The type of community that families live in may increase these challenges. Food insecurity, housing insecurity and poverty affect how families care for their youth, and these challenges occur as much or more often in rural communities. Parents of youth with mental, behavioral and developmental disorders in rural areas more often report having trouble getting by on their family's income than parents of children with these disorders in urban areas and report poorer mental health for themselves. Communities in high poverty areas lack amenities that promote quality of life, such as parks, recreation centers and libraries.

Community-based initiatives can help families overcome these challenges. Families of youth with mental, behavioral and developmental challenges can benefit from better access to mental and behavioral health care, programs that support parents and caregivers, and opportunities to learn, play and socialize.

By improving mental well-being, we can transform our communities and make a profound impact.

Your funding is crucial to accelerating this life-saving work across the state.

Learn more about our current work.

Coast to Forest Oregon

Coast to Forest: Mental Health Promotion

Coast to Forest is a community-driven program that increases knowledge and awareness about mental health, substance abuse and available resources.


Goals to support our Mental Health Initiative

  • Center for Mental Health
  • Endowed Chair and Director for Youth and Family Mental Health and Well-being
  • Statewide Specialist for Youth and Family Mental Health and Well-being
  • 6 Regional Specialists
  • 42 Community Health Workers/Community Mental Health Innovators
  • Pilot research funding – 20 to 40 new innovative research projects
  • Fellowships/Post-docs
  • Research Assistantships