White Bird Clinic Receives Federal Funding for Mental Health Center Expansion

Eugene, Oregon – Oregon senators Wyden and Merkley have announced that White Bird Clinic in Eugene is a recipient of $275,000 in congressional directed spending funds contained in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations package. The funds support the expansion of White Bird’s mental health counseling department. The project will double the agency’s counseling capacity, directly addressing the pressing community need for more availability of mental health services for Medicaid members.

Nationally, the demand for mental health services has risen dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic; bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear of serious illness and death are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. For low income individuals covered by Medicaid, it is very hard to even find a provider willing to take their insurance. In Lane County, many providers have closed their wait lists. If accepted, the wait for care can be up to five months, an unacceptably lengthy term of suffering before help is provided.

“Oregon’s senators value mental health care access for all community members,” says Chris Hecht, White Bird Clinic’s Executive Coordinator. “By championing funding for White Bird’s Mental Health Center Expansion, senators Wyden and Merkley are helping to reduce the barriers to achieving mental health wellbeing faced by Oregonians enrolled in Medicaid. On behalf of the Eugene/Springfield community, we thank the senators for their farsighted advocacy.”

The clinic expansion will enable White Bird Clinic to hire additional therapists and grow to serve up to twice as many patients as is currently possible. The facility will feature a trauma-informed design, six counseling offices, accessible bathrooms, a multiuse space, and a patient waiting room.

“These investments represent the best of the Oregon Way, namely that Oregonians in communities all across the state pulled together to determine their local quality-of-life solutions that will keep people safe…I’m glad to have teamed up with them and Senator Merkley to produce these tangible and significant results,” said Senator Wyden.

White Bird’s counseling department provides individual, couples and family counseling by licensed mental health counselors, as well as in-home end-of-life counseling services that provide support for psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual issues related to death and dying.

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