2023 Oregon Family Impact Seminar

Youth and Family Mental Health

November 6, 2023

This year our speakers will discuss ways to improve the mental health of Oregon’s youth and families.

   Register now

What is the Family Impact Seminar?

For 20 years, the Oregon Family Impact Seminars have brought nationally recognized, non-partisan experts to present the latest scientific evidence on issues of interest to state policy makers and leaders. The seminar is an opportunity for researchers and policy makers to discuss how to translate research to practice making meaningful changes in Oregon families’ lives.

Family Impact Seminar 2023: Youth and Family Mental Health

Families are critical for promoting mental health and access to mental health services. The state of adult and youth mental health in the US is dismal, especially for those living in Oregon. The state ranks 50 in the US for the highest prevalence of mental illness and lowest rates of access to care. The percent of OR adults with mental illness is 27%--6% higher than the national average. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth mental health was deteriorating; from 2009 to 2019 there was a 40% increase in poor mental health and a 44% increase in suicidal ideation among youth. Several factors have exacerbated the mental health crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence, and hate crimes. Parents' and youth’s mental health affects their ability to thrive at school, at work, and at home, with potential long-term repercussions for health, functioning, and quality of life. Family members have a profound effect on one another, and therefore family policies to improve mental health need to be holistic.

Many families with a member experiencing mental health challenges are unable to seek treatment due to a lack of insurance, their insurance does not cover mental health treatment, costs are prohibitive, or there are insufficient in- or out-of-network providers. Indeed, one estimate indicated that there are 350 patients per one mental health provider. These barriers disproportionately affect families in marginalized groups, such as families of color and those living in remote geographies. Oregon is one of the lowest ranking states due largely to low rates of access to mental health care.

State policies can positively shape family mental health. Some states have increased school mental health resources, funded family-focused care, and expanded Medicaid's coverage of behavioral health benefits. This family impact seminar will bring rigorous science on how the mental health of family systems can be improved.

This Year’s Nationally Recognized Speakers

Dr. Jennifer Pfeifer


Professor, Department of Psychology; Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Oregon

Dr. Leslie Leve


Professor and Lorry Lokey Chair in Education; Department Head, Counseling Psychology and Human Services; and Scientist, Prevention Science Institute, University of Oregon

Dr. Kiara Álvarez


Bloomberg Assistant Professor of American Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University


State Library of Oregon
250 Winter St NE, Salem, OR 97301
Room 102/103


We look forward to having an engaging conversation about family policy in Oregon.

Session 1

9-11 a.m.


Closed session with policy makers

9 – 9:30 a.m.   Meet & Greet
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.     Speakers
10:30 – 11 a.m.   Discussion

You and your staff are welcome to join at any time.

   Register for Session 1

Session 2

noon-2 p.m.


Open session with advocates, lobbyists, community stakeholders, researchers, and students

   Register for Session 2

Oregon Family Impact Seminar Co-Leads

Dr. David Rothwell
Barbara Knudson Chair in Family Policy
Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Sciences,  
Oregon State University

Dr. Kelly D. Chandler
Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Sciences,
Oregon State University