Multnomah County has been taking multiple measures this past year to challenge the stigma of mental health, and they recently introduced a new initiative that will involve TriMet.
Ads will be placed on the backs of buses, on benches, and at bus stops to share the stories of those struggling with mental illnesses. Leticia Sainz, in an interview with KATU2, explained their reasoning for sharing stories rather than statistics and facts. “Storytelling and stories is the way to change people’s hearts and minds around stigma. . . Our goal is to really tell just a small story about people in our community who have mental health challenges. These are people we all know and love, come from different walks of life.”
While not real people are used in the advertisements, the program made sure to pick images that would relate to the majority of diverse communities in Multnomah County, whether it is different ethnicities, ages, or gender.
Sainz concluded by stating, “We definitely hope that people get another insight into the people around them in our community and how prevalent it is to have people who are struggling with mental health concerns. . .That’s the story we’re telling because that’s the story of mental health in our community.”
Ads are already appearing on the back of buses and more will be revealed in the upcoming months.
Last Saturday, July 21st, over six hundred families rallied together in the morning for a “reunion” in front of the Randall Children’s Hospital. Each family had surrendered a newly-born family member to the neonatal intensive care unit in the hopes of saving a loved one’s life. Now, whether they had visited the NICU several months ago or many years ago, all gathered together to celebrate life with music and other activities.
Another event took place in front of Randall Children’s Hospital later that day to raise money for cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The event, titled “Shave to Save a Life,” gathered together current and former patients, families, staff, and friends to shave heads to raise awareness and money for the cause. A diverse crowd offered up their hair for the cause, including young children, teens, and adults from all walks of life. The foundation funds more childhood cancer research grants than any other private organization in the United States.
View an article on Fox12 Oregon for more information, pictures, and videos of the two events.
From 10am on July 14th to 10am on July 15th, participants in the Relay for Life walked the track of Fowler Middle School in Tigard, battling the heat wave that has taken over Portland this last week. The event was held to raise money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society. The goal was to raise $66,000 in 24 hours.
The only time the participants stopped was to participate in the Luminaria Ceremony, in which candles were lit for those who had passed away from cancer, battled cancer and survived, or who are currently fighting cancer.
By the time the event was concluded, over $77,000 had been raised.
Burt Waugh, a cancer survivor, said in an interview with KATU2, “Being a survivor, it certainly means a lot to me and a lot of people within the company and relatives and friends that have had cancer.”
The event is open to more donations on their website until August 31st.
This past Sunday, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) took to walking with members and supporters through the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland in the hopes of raising $225,000 for mental health services.
Many walking had a special connection to the cause, and in an interview with KATU2, one young woman involved with NAMI explained her reason for walking. Having to resort to a hospital stay for emotional distress, Trillian Stanton realized the importance of support in recovering from mental illness. This realization is what inspired her to create Project Self-Care.
The project creates self-care boxes with various comforting items, such as fun snacks, journals, coloring books, a fidget toy. Each box also includes a handwritten note letting the recipient know that he or she is in someone’s thoughts. She states in her explanation of the project that “the idea behind project self care is to remind people that they are worth loving, we give them the materials to then use to help nurture themselves when they are in times of crisis.”
In the interview, Stanton stated, “When you’re in the middle of the night, and you want to not be here anymore, and you open this kit and you’re trying to take care of yourself, and you’ll think, ‘look at how much the community wanted to take care of me.'” She hopes this feeling of community will help those struggling with mental illness.
In the past three months, she has already given out 30 kits and is currently fundraising for $1,200 to help her project.
Stanton is not the only one however attempting to help those with mental illnesses in Oregon.
In a statewide study released earlier this year, Oregon was found to have a higher than average number of teens struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health issue in a year, but in Oregon, the average was actually 1 out of 3 students.
Multnomah County is currently taking measures to counteract this statistic by providing services in the schools, including providing specific people to talk to or a place to get more professional, serious help. The County health offices now also provide resources on their website as well as a through a phone line 24/7.
David Hidalgo, Director for Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services, stated in an interview with KATU2, “For students, being able to have a healthy mind is critical to being successful in school.”
The supervisor for School Based Mental Health in Multnomah County, Stephen Dunlevy, also stated in the interview the importance of teen’s mental health and the need to reduce the stigma. “It’s important that we reduce stigma so that getting access to mental health services is just like going to your doctor.
All Oregonians will remember the tragic wildfire that ran through the Columbia River Gorge, destroying many of the state’s most beautiful hikes and views. The fire burned a total of 48,000 acres of land.
Ever so slowly, several trails are opening up to the public once again, specifically Starvation Ridge, Mount Defiance, and Warren Lake. Favorite spots that include Oneonta Gorge, Angel’s Rest, and Larch Mountain are still closed to the public.
In February, the teen who started the fire by throwing fireworks into brush pleaded guilty, and he was just charged by the Hood River County Circuit Court with paying around $36.6 million in restitution for the damage caused by the fire. The Hood River Juvenile Department will help him to establish a payment schedule. The judge stated in a memorandum on the case that “In short, I’m satisfied that the restitution ordered in this case bears a sufficient relationship to the gravity of the offenses for which the youth was adjudicated.”