Leveraging our strengths
We want to contribute our academic expertise and leverage our resources to improve the mental and behavioral well-being of youth and families in Oregon and beyond.
This new initiative, led by Oregon State's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, reflects our college's vision to ensure health and well-being for every person, every family and every community and builds upon our foundational strengths. Through this initiative, we will leverage and advance Oregon State's resources, research, expertise and partnerships to more urgently meet this state and national crisis.
This initiative will encourage partnerships with Oregon State to engage local communities, establish metrics at county and state levels, and develop and implement coordinated strategies using research, practice and policy to build a healthier Oregon. Our research expertise and infrastructure for community capacity-building in each of Oregon's 36 counties provide the resources to readily translate knowledge and partnerships into community based programming. This public health approach engages families, communities, government agencies and health care organizations to prevent and address mental health and behavioral health problems — together.
Celebrating 150 years of serving the state, Oregon State University is a leading international research institution grounded in the land grant tradition of bringing research and teaching to bear on the most pressing challenges facing our state and our world today. Our faculty members are global leaders in their fields, improving human health and wellness, promoting economic growth and social progress, and advancing the science of earth ecosystems. Home to more than 31,000 students from all 50 states and 89 nations, OSU is the state's comprehensive research university and the university of choice for high-achieving and diverse students.
As Oregon's first accredited College of Public Health and Human Sciences, we take on our greatest challenges to health using science and community engagement to ensure health and well-being for individuals, families and communities in Oregon and beyond.
We're also growing. Since 2009, we have added more than 40 new faculty members, who train the next generation of public health and human sciences professionals and advance science through teaching, research, scholarship and creativity. These faculty, including 12 who are endowed, support a growing student body in a world in which three times the number of current public health graduates is needed to meet the needs of the future. The college is a standout among other schools and colleges of public health because outreach — in the form of the OSU Extension Service — is built in. In addition to being one of only a handful of schools of public health at a land grant institution, it is one of the only schools of public health with this level of connection to communities.
As a land grant university, Oregon State is the people's university, reaching every county in the state through county-based Oregon State University Extension Service faculty. A public health approach engages systems, families and communities in preventing health problems and developing solutions for existing problems.
The Family and Community Health program supports communities in addressing their citizen's needs, while 4-H promotes positive youth development, including the Youth Advocates for Health program. This network of locally based expertise serves as a ready platform for leveraging a broader community- based campaign to improve mental and behavioral health across the state.
The Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families was established in 2011 to promote the development and well-being of children, youth and families through research that influences practice. Its four research cores draw faculty from across the college and Extension to address early childhood, youth and young adults, parenting and family life, and healthy eating and active living. The center's holistic and interdisciplinary work has far-reaching consequences for Oregon and beyond.
Researchers are currently working on topics such as improving self-regulation in young children and adolescents, understanding how to reduce youth risk behaviors, and promoting healthy adolescent transitions. In collaboration with OSU Extension, the Hallie Ford Center sponsors the Oregon Family Impact Seminar for state legislators and agency leadership on topics of current relevance to legislators (e.g., housing, childhood obesity, poverty).
Parents and other caregivers of children play a crucial role in shaping child development. Extension Family and Community Health, in partnership with the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC), provides access to education, support and resources to strengthen families and communities across the state.
For example, the middle school years can prove challenging for all families, particularly families already experiencing other stressors of unemployment, poverty or housing insecurity. Middle-schoolers are often beginning to experience the stressors of independence and social isolation, while still strongly connected to their families, schools and peers as resources for managing these stressors. Effective programming for parents, schools and peers can support positive mental health development in Oregon's youth.
Trained community-based resource workers can refer and coordinate with local resources and facilitate access to health systems if needed. For other communities, depression among socially isolated older members may be a major concern. Community health workers can work with local partners to identify existing resources, increase activities for more social integration and coordinate resources including transportation as needed.
The college is home to the HDFS program, which consistently ranks as a top 10 U.S. program in that field. HDFS programs empower individuals, families and communities to thrive.