As the Oregon legislature considers diminished dollars in human services, specifically a 13 percent cut by June 30 in community mental health, now is the time for the Clatsop County Commissioners to recognize a vulnerable population.

Perhaps the Commission knows not the prevalence of brain diseases, euphemistically known as mental illness. One in four families is likely to experience a mentally ill member, according to the U.S. surgeon general.

No one chooses to have a brain disease, but the gene can appear in anyone, which represents a significant portion of our county's nearly 40,000 population. An allocation, however, of our county taxes for mental health has never been included in Clatsop County's general fund budget since the late 1980s.

As the county budgeting process for 2009-10 proceeds, we respectfully request the commissioners to allocate $50,000 to Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare for mental health; $50,000 for the funding of a safe/holding room for people suffering a psychotic episode; and another $50,000 to LifeWorks NorthWest to help sort out mentally ill people who self-medicate by using alcohol and street drugs.

Juanita Price

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Oregon Public Policy committee member

Astoria

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