Advocates to rally for children’s mental health

Statesman Journal, May 8, 2014

Children runningOne out of eight children in Oregon experience significant mental or behavioral health challenges.

It’s more common than childhood asthma, yet the families who face it rarely talk about the devastating impact it can have.

But for one day these families and youth share their stories at Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Hundreds of families, youth and mental health advocates will gather at the Oregon State Capitol 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today to raise awareness.

This year families also have something to celebrate. The Oregon State Legislature increased financial support to public mental and behavioral health programs for youth and their families across the state.

More children, youth, young adults and their families will have the ability to access services that are individualized and strengths and community based, said Sandy Bumpus, executive director of the Oregon Family Support Network.

Along that theme, this year’s event focuses on promoting overall wellness.

“So much of the time we focus on the ‘mental illness’, rather than ‘mental health and well-being.” Bumpus said.

“Building circles of wellness is about celebrating differences, focusing on strengths, and having the support of those who ‘believe in you’. That’s where the healing begins.”

The Oregon Family Support Network, Youth M.O.V.E Oregon, Oregon Health Authority and Addictions and Mental Health Division sponsor the event. Community Partners include Latino Network, Native American Rehabilitation Association, TransActive and Multnomah County.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Hundreds of families, youth and mental health advocates will gather at the Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today to raise awareness around the needs of children, youth and young adults who experience mental health challenges and their families. The event includes speakers, a resource fair, children’s activities and free lunch for children, youth and families.

Where to find help

NAMI Marion Polk is a nonprofit that helps those with significant mental illnesses and their family through family training, support groups and resource referral at

Marion County Children’s Behavioral Health Services works with children experiencing a serious mental illness and their families at (503) 588-5352.

EASA Marion County is a free program that helps young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Call (503) 576-4690 or (503) 559-9631 or visit​