Fighting Stigma and Celebrating Recovery During Mental Health Month


“The journey is a not an easy journey. It’s not a straight line. But we can overcome and we do recover.”

This is how Braunwynn Franklin describes living with her mental health diagnosis for the past 45 years. For her, it was challenging to go to college, to hold a position in any company, and to be a single mom of three.

She’s just one of every six Oregonians that lives with mental illness. Individuals with mental health issues across the state continue to face systemic and cultural barriers to accessing the services and support they need to live a full life.

But Braunwynn says finding help has allowed her to discover her strengths and successfully manage her challenges.

As May marks Mental Health Month, the Oregon Health Authority is raising awareness about Oregonians living with mental illness as a way to fight stigma and encourage struggling individuals to seek help.

“It is time to end stigma,” said Steve Allen, state behavioral health director. “If you’re struggling, seek help. Know that you aren’t alone.”

Through increased investments in community mental health resources in recent years, Oregon has seen increased availability of mobile crisis services, supported housing and peer-delivered services.

“OHA envisions a behavioral health system that provides services and supports in the right place at the right time,” Allen said. “While we have made progress, we still need to do more to help individuals and families thrive in their home communities, schools and jobs, while preventing crises. We look forward to continuing to work with consumers, advocates and families to improve our system.”

During this legislative session, OHA has proposed investments in:

  • Intensive in-home behavioral health services for children and youth.
  • Youth and adult suicide intervention and prevention.
  • More mental health services in schools.
  • Community restoration for misdemeanor defendants experiencing mental illness.

In addition, integrating behavioral health, physical and oral health to improve health outcomes is among the top policy objectives of the next phase of the Oregon Health Plan.

To find services and treatments available in your local community, go to the OHA website. If you are in crisis, call the Lines for Life 24/7 lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 273TALK to 839863.

About Author

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is the state agency at the forefront of lowering and containing costs, improving quality and increasing access to health care in order to improve the lifelong health of Oregonians. OHA includes most of the state's health care programs, including Public Health and the Oregon Health Plan.

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