Resources for Mothers and Caregivers

Family Forward has partnered with APANO and PCUN to advocate for progressive mental health policy and change in Oregon. 

Our coalition’s mission is to build grassroots power and an effective mental health justice advocacy campaign to address the lack of access to comprehensive, affordable, and culturally competent mental health care for mothers and caregivers, especially across Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other communities of color.

Our campaign is rooted in transformational organizing principles and focuses deeply on involving impacted communities in policy design, advocacy, community organizing, power-building, and more.

Oregon is consistently ranked one of the worst states in the country when it comes to mental health, in both rates of mental illness and access to care. Fewer than one-in-five mental health care providers in Oregon are people of color. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing mental health crisis for caregivers, parents, and care providers. Paid and unpaid care work makes all other work possible. But lack of paid leave, affordable child care, and little investments in care infrastructure continue to exploit and exhaust our care workforce.

Women, particularly Black, Indigenous, and women of color face unique economic challenges that have a direct correlation to poor mental health.

According to a study by the CDC, two-thirds of people who identified as unpaid caregivers said they experienced mental health challenges during the pandemic, such as symptoms of anxiety or depression, or suicidal thoughts. 85% of people who care for both children under 18 and adults experience adverse mental health symptoms.

Our Legislative Wins

During the 2021 legislative session, our coalition helped pass HB 2949! This legislation will diversify and strengthen Oregon’s mental health workforce: closing the access gap to comprehensive, sufficient, affordable, and culturally competent mental health, which is clear especially within BIPOC communities. 

  • $80 million is allocated to the Oregon Health Authority to carry out this work
  • $60M is dedicated to incentives/benefits to increase recruitment and retention of the mental health workforce
  • $20M to expand clinical supervision and to develop culturally responsive mental health services and improve access for marginalized communities

Our Stories

I am a Black man living in Oregon who suffers from anxiety acquired from police brutality – having been pulled over by the police over 50 times, being beaten by the police 5 times and jailed over 12 times throughout my life. The failure to address my anxiety caused profound problems in my ability to function as a husband, father and doctoral student. Having access to a Black male therapist who may understand my feelings of anxiety due to suffering police brutality would be extremely helpful in coping with daily reality. My search continues. Covid-19 has exacerbated this struggle without being able to speak with a mental health provider that may share my perspective.

Ronald, Portland

The lack of access to comprehensive, sufficient, affordable, and culturally competent mental health is clear within BIPOC communities. I want there to be access to mental health care for all of my community members. It has been difficult to find resources as a person of color and to find someone that can understand my situation. I would feel most comfortable speaking with BIPOC mental health providers. I also know many of my fellow BIPOC feel the same way. Bills that address the mental health issues we have in Oregon are needed now more than ever because of COVID -19. It has been difficult to find ways to cope with the drastic losses and changes that occurred. Our community needs help coping with the impact that Covid had so that people don’t get caught in their depression and find a way out.

Dalia, Salem

My story with mental health has been a lifelong experience.  As a daughter of an undiagnosed manic depressive father in the 1960s and 1970’s I can personally account for the impact that mental health stigma has had on myself, my siblings, our family and the world around my father. Oregon is consistently ranked one of the worst states in the country when it comes to access to mental health care and fewer than one-in-five mental health care providers in the state are people of color. Representation in healthcare is necessary to ensure the well-being and health of BIPOC Oregonians.

Jan, Salem

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was fifteen years old, although my symptoms had been developing years prior to the diagnosis. After my battle with a chronic illness that left me in the hospital for a month, I was now having to return home and then move to a new city having experienced the most traumatic health decline in my life. My mother, who is a single mother of three, had to go back to work while I continued my healing at home in a new city. Things that were once easy to do, now seemed like mountains I was unable to climb. Going to school was not easy, taking the bus, making myself a meal. My depression and anxiety had worsened.

Magy, Salem