PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden held a meeting on Thursday with health care service providers and parents on the soaring need for children’s mental health services.
The group, including pediatricians, child psych unit workers, parents and hotline workers, heard growing concerns about children’s mental health and the need for more providers and access to mental health care for children and teens.
“What we all recognize is the reality of young people sounding an alarm clear and loud across Oregon,” Wyden said.
Also at the roundtable was the Ballmer Institute, the new Portland program run by the University of Oregon, that will provide training in children’s mental health and an undergraduate program for behavioral health practitioners for schools, community groups and families.
One of the most compelling personal stories came from Susannah Morgan, the head of the Oregon Food Bank, about her family’s struggle to get the care her elementary-age son desperately needs.
“Our system is failing my son. February of this year, two weeks before his tenth birthday, we called 911 for the second time in a week. At school, he was out of control. The police came, the ambulance came, he was transported to Doernbecher. This is his fifth visit to the emergency room,” Morgan explained.
Morgan said the hospital promised to keep him until an acute psychiatric bed was open, but after six nights in the ER, where she slept on the floor of his padded room, he was sent home.
“If I can’t make this system work, me — white, privileged, on a first-name basis with senators, with English as my first language and a flexible job — then this system is failing all of our children,” Morgan said.