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Oregon needs 3,000 more people and 8,000 more beds to meet mental health and addiction treatment needs

Oregon – To properly address the need for mental health and addiction treatment, Oregon must increase its capacity by nearly 3,000 people, according to a report from the Oregon Health Authority released on Thursday. This means the state needs about 8,000 total beds, which is a 70% rise from its current 4,800. Right now, Oregon can offer help in various places like adult foster homes, residential centers, the Oregon State Hospital, psychiatric hospitals, and other settings. Plans to enlarge these facilities are expected to allow for the treatment of about 5,200 individuals.

This might cost the state more than half a billion in five years

To achieve this expansion and start new facilities, the report suggests that over $500 million will be necessary over a minimum of five years. However, this figure doesn’t cover the ongoing costs for operations and staff wages. Governor Tina Kotek directed the Oregon Health Authority to initiate this study, which was conducted by Public Consulting Group, a company based in Boston with experience in similar projects in Washington and other areas.

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“Too many Oregonians are struggling to get the help they need for a mental health or addiction challenge, and the state needs to lead with a strategic approach to addressing these gaps in health care,” Kotek said in a statement as reported by Oregon Capital Chronicle. “We need more resources, to be sure, but we also need better data so we can better serve Oregonians.”

This analysis focuses on the need for more residential treatment beds considering the demand expected up to fall 2025. It does not delve into the requirements for outpatient behavioral health services.

Oregon needs between 1,160 and 2,170 additional beds in residential addiction treatment

A significant shortfall identified is in residential addiction treatment, where Oregon needs between 1,160 and 2,170 additional beds. This requirement is roughly double the state’s existing capacity of about 1,610 beds. Residential treatment offers a highly structured environment with round-the-clock supervision and care.

This information comes just as the state legislature is gearing up for a 35-day session starting Monday, with a major focus on tackling drug addiction and enhancing access to treatment, including residential facilities. Lawmakers are on the lookout for ready-to-go projects that could provide residential addiction treatment services.

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The final report will be finished by Jine and presented to state officials

Although this report provides preliminary findings, a more comprehensive final report expected in June will further inform the state’s strategy moving forward.

Representative Rob Nosse from Portland, who leads the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care, mentioned that this data is crucial for planning future actions. He acknowledged the pressing need for more resources, which has been apparent for a while, but emphasized that the report offers concrete data to help the state move forward.

Heather Jefferis, the executive director of the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health, also noted the importance of these findings in aiding the state’s efforts to enhance the treatment system.

“We’re really pleased to see numbers because those numbers are really, really critical for us to develop a strategic plan to get where we need to be as a state,” Jefferis said in an interview. “We’re very excited about this progress. It’s extremely important.”

After investing over $1.5 billion in the past four years to improve Oregon’s behavioral health infrastructure, the state recognizes that solving the mental health and addiction crisis goes beyond just creating more treatment spaces. A notable challenge is the lack of behavioral health professionals, which hinders the expansion of services.

The investments have focused on enhancing residential services, raising payments for providers, and offering incentives to attract more workforce into the sector.

“We now have clear and reliable preliminary benchmarks to pursue a sustainable multi-year funding and program effort to ensure every person in Oregon with a serious substance use disorder or mental illness can get the care they need,” OHA’s Behavioral Health Director Ebony Clarke said in a statement.

The OHA is actively working on launching more projects in the next few years to fill the critical service gaps and is exploring funding options for projects that can be started quickly.

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Clarke emphasized the state’s commitment to making sure that anyone seeking help for mental health or substance use issues can access the vital treatment they need without obstacles.

Orion Hargrove


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