Every year, millions of people around the world honor the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time, people fight the stigma against mental illness, educate the public, and advocate for change regarding various mental health conditions.
How does mental health impact our local community members experiencing homelessness? Researchers agree that between 20 to 30 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness suffer from mental illness. In many cases, environment and stressful or traumatic life events are linked to the development of mental illness. This increases the likelihood that those who are at-risk or are currently experiencing homelessness will develop a mental illness or may already be living with one.
The Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance agrees that homelessness and mental illness are serious challenges that must be addressed and supported. We do this by connecting medical services with street outreach workers; strengthening coordination among health care providers, housing providers, and homeless services programs; and expanding permanent supportive housing where mental health services are provided at affordable housing sites so that people with mental health conditions can stabilize and successfully retain permanent housing.
Marion County Health & Human Services strives to create a safe and welcoming community where all people can access high quality health and human services, and are supported to achieve their highest level of health. Behavioral health programs include the Psychiatric Crisis Center located on the Salem Health campus providing 24/7 crisis intervention.
Polk County Behavioral Health is dedicated to fostering strong communities, healthy families, and personal well-being, with a mission to enhance health and safety through prevention, collaboration, and individualized high-quality behavioral health services.
Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition raises awareness about suicide prevention through targeted outreach and education. Outreach efforts focus on making suicide prevention an approachable topic for all ages through social media and community-based interaction.
The Recovery Outreach Community Center is a peer run community center that supports people with mental health, addiction and trauma issues. ROCC is staffed by trained, state-certified Peer Support Specialists. The Center offers individualized support as well as support groups. See the Center’s May calendar of events on their Facebook page.
Together, we can change the way society perceives and treats people with mental health conditions through education and understanding.
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person, call 911.