Oregon’s population is rapidly aging. With this shift comes an increasing need for access to behavioral health resources, including support for substance use disorders and serious mental illness. But these resources are often inaccessible and underutilized as the state’s aging population encounters barriers to services and supports. Portland State University, in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University, has received a $1 million, two-year grant from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to establish a center for excellence designed to address these challenges. This pass-through funding comes from Oregon’s federal block grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This award reflects OHA’s strategic vision to address the behavioral health needs of older adults through training, research and workforce development.
“We are facing a nationwide mental health crisis among older adults that for far too long has been overlooked. Tragically, many behavioral health issues go undiagnosed and untreated, leaving many older adults to navigate the journey alone,” said Walter Dawson, co-director of the Center and assistant professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “All Oregonians deserve access to high-quality care that can support health and well-being across the life course including late life. Addressing a brain health challenge of this scope requires state and system-wide collaborations, and the establishment of this center is a critical first step towards improving the lives of Oregon’s aging population.”