12 Days of Disability Rights: The right to mental health care

This is part of our ‘12 Days of Disability Rights‘ series, a dozen challenges that DRO has stepped up to fight on behalf of our community and will continue pushing forward with your help.

Earlier this year, Oregon was ranked 49th out of 50 states for access to mental health services. We at DRO believe it is unconscionable that people with mental illness receive inadequate services and end up unnecessarily institutionalized in jails and hospitals, at risk of isolation, abuse, and even death.

This year, we have worked on making sure that mental health providers couldn’t refuse to see patients who were experiencing severe behavioral symptoms – the first step in preventing a vicious cycle of institutionalization. When people go to a hospital for crisis treatment, we work to prevent “boarding” in emergency rooms that are ill-equipped to treat people in mental health crisis. In Portland, we participated in the planning for the new Unity Center, where people in mental health crisis will be taken.

For people who are institutionalized, we advocated both individually and systemically for practices and policies that allowed maximum personal choice and fostered reintegration into the community. This includes equal access for LGBTQ residents, trauma-informed care for pregnant women, access to voter registration and ballots, reducing unnecessary overmedication, and well-planned discharge into the community. In the coming years, we will continue to push for fully funded and safe mental health services for everyone living in the community and in an institution.

Over 20% of Oregonians have a mental illness. Please consider a $20 or $200 donation today so that we can continue our work reducing institutionalization, improving access to crisis health care, investigating severe abuse and neglect or death, and make sure people can see mental health providers.

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Check our 12 Days of Disability Rights series every day in December for updates.

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