Without options in Oregon, teens who need behavioral health care go out of state

Without options in Oregon, teens who need behavioral health care go out of state


Emilene Valadez and Rene Miranda talk with their son at their home in Beaverton. Mark Graves/The Oregonian

Editor’s Note

Content warning: This story contains descriptions of substance use disorder and self-harm. Help is available. Call or text 988 for 24-hour, confidential support or visit 988lifeline.org.

Over Christmas break, without the structure of school, Emilene Valadez and Rene Miranda’s 17-year-old son relapsed, falling back into the grips of cocaine.

The Beaverton teen was honest about his collapse, telling his parents he was scared he would die.

About the Reporting

Oregon’s failure to provide adequate mental health treatment for its residents has grown more visible in recent years but its causes stretch back decades. The Oregonian/OregonLive aims to shine a light on barriers to quality care, identify failures of policy and illuminate a path forward.

The teen recovery series examines how Oregon’s youth behavioral health system compares to other states’ and what parents are forced to do to keep their children safe.

The Oregonian/OregonLive interviewed 15 teens, five parents and numerous educators and service providers, spending about 2 1/2 months getting to know students at Harmony Academy Recovery High School in Lake Oswego, sitting in on their classes and following them to school activities. The newsroom chose not to use students’ full names because they are minors.

Continuing coverage at oregonlive.com/mentalhealth.

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