Skip to Content

C.O. Health Council makes major investment in behavioral health efforts

C.O. Health Council

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Central Oregon Health Council said Wednesday it has made a multi-million-dollar investment in four behavioral health causes: preventing youth suicide, bolstering mental health services for older adults, underinsured and uninsured persons, and veterans.

“We combined hard data with anecdotal gaps we know exist in the system,” explains the health council’s executive director, Donna Mills. “We know all of these populations need more help than they are getting, so we are taking focused action.”

Mills said the funding totals just over $4 million is is primarily from state Medicaid funds. The funds have been dispersed to local service providers for multi-year projects because of their close ties with each priority group.

Recipients included the Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance, Deschutes County Behavioral Health Services, the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, Volunteers in Medicine, and Central Oregon Veteran’s Outreach. Each organization has committed to at least three years of bolstered services with the funds provided.

Much of the data that track these efforts can be found on the Central Oregon Health Data website, a free resource where anyone can find demographic and health-related data ( Here is what is known about each of the priority groups’ behavioral health needs:

  • More than 5% of all Central Oregon 11th graders report attempting suicide, and the rates are even higher in younger teens. Eighth graders reported 7.8%-12% of attempted suicide, depending on the county. Between 12.9%-23.2% of both age groups reported considering suicide, depending on the county.
  • When measured in 2018, the number of local Medicare beneficiaries who reported depression hovered around one in six.
  • Veterans comprise approximately 10% of the Central Oregon population. The 2018 Evaluation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services shows that nationally 28% of veterans self-reported they had been diagnosed with a mental health condition in the previous two years.
  • Persons without health insurance in 2018 ranges between 5-12% depending on the area. The organization most directly serving this population’s health care needs is Volunteers in Medicine. Executive Director Kat Mastrangelo reports that 88% of appointments in the past twelve months were conducted in Spanish. The National Hispanic and Latino Mental Health Technology Transfer Center reported in 2020 that “Disparities in access to mental health treatment are more prevalent [than access to other services], with only 1 in 10 Hispanics with a mental disorder actually using mental health services from a general health care provider.”

Mills explained that the money for these investments was earmarked for behavioral health separately from the Central Oregon Health Council’s Regional Health Improvement Plan investment areas, which, in addition to behavioral health also include housing, early education, poverty and other health-related priorities.  According to Mills, behavioral health in general was named a key priority by the Central Oregon Health Council’s Board of Directors back in 2018.

About the Central Oregon Health Data Website: The Central Oregon Health Data website is a free resource for demographic and health data in our region. Visit to learn more.

About the Central Oregon Health Council: The Central Oregon Health Council improves health care by bringing down costs and raising both quality and satisfaction. Visit to learn more.

Article Topic Follows: Health

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ news sources


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content