EUGENE - U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith's efforts to raise awareness for youth suicide prevention and education after his son's death in 2003 has earned him an honor from the Oregon Psychological Association.

Smith, R-Pendleton, will receive the Legislator of the Year award from the OPA at the association's annual conference in Eugene next Thursday.

Smith has championed several mental health issues in Congress that merit recognition from the OPA, said spokeswoman Sandra Fisher.

He passed the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act last year, named after Smith's son who committed suicide in September 2003 after a lifelong bout with depression. The act set aside $82 million over three years for youth suicide prevention and intervention programs.

Smith is also involved in advocating for funding for psychology internship training in hospitals through Medicare. If passed, this bill would provide reimbursement to hospitals for psychology internship training programs that would benefit patients.

Fisher said the psychology profession is one of the few health providers excluded from Medicare reimbursement and hospitals are no longer able to bear the costs.

The Oregon Psychological Association is a non-profit professional organization with more than 800 members, and provides public education and resources related to the psychology field.

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