Portland Boosts Mental Health Crisis System

The Portland City Council today authorized a $70,000 grant agreement with CareOregon to advance planning for a networked approach to strengthen Portland’s mental health crisis system. The City is working with mental health service delivery organizations, first responders, people with lived experience of the system, people from historically under-represented communities of color, businesses, and neighborhood associations.

The new project is called the Behavioral Health Emergency Coordination Network. The project’s goal is to build a collaborative hub and spoke network to lower barriers to care for people experiencing crisis, their families, law enforcement, care providers, first responders, neighbors, business owners and others.

The aim is to get people experiencing mental health and drug-related crises the help they need in a safe and supportive setting as early as possible.

Design of the network will kick-off in March. One idea under consideration is an urgent-care style, multi-partner, triage, and assessment unit. The unit would help direct people in crisis to appropriate care. In addition, the network will include existing psychiatric emergency rooms, the Unity Center for Behavioral Health and will seek to create and connect with additional, more robust detox and sobering options and integrated peer and culturally responsive services. The project also will work closely with agencies and organizations in the criminal justice system.

“We need a more coordinated and integrated approach to providing meaningful care to people in crisis. That requires a variety of options and locations where people can get stable and have an assessment done,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Too often, police are the only available resource for people in crisis. While the police do great work, we can do better by working together to create a more robust and coordinated network of support” he said.

The new proposal will support and partner with existing programs and new projects that are underway to provide more behavioral health services in the Portland area. The City hopes to have a final proposal this summer.

“We want to work with all stakeholders to make sure that a project like this can proceed as quickly and effectively as possible,” said Elise Burke, a CareOregon spokeswoman.

Source: Portland Mayor's Office

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