2008 Survey of Helping Organizations

i-am-helpingOregon’s mental health system is broken. Chronic underfunding, stigma, poor working conditions, haphazard leadership, and a myriad of ailments, some treatable, some not so treatable, amount to Oregon’s most complex, controversial and careless service delivery system.

But as the sailor said to the farmer, marveling at the ocean, “and that’s only the top of it.”

The “system” is a uncoordinated set of government bureaucracies, jails, prisons, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals, and government contractors, both federal, state, county and city, which typically run community clinics and housing which coordinates with those clinics. All together, our “system” costs at least $500 million each year.

Underneath, in the vacuum caused by Oregon’s disorganization, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of private organizations have sprouted, providing information, services, and advocacy of varying qualities and quantities. These helping organizations are typically nonprofits, have a specific area of interest, and communicate poorly, if at all with their peers and prospective allies. They are often if not always launched by a fearful family member seeking to evade a bad outcome, either experienced or imagined.

The work of these private organizations is both invaluable and unmeasured.

Over the next two months this website will provide an incomplete survey of these helping organizations, from all corners of Oregon. Keep checking in; you’ll learn about organizations you have never heard of before and people who match your concern for the welfare of persons with addiction and mental illness.

Tomorrow: Portland Aspergers Network