We expect a lot from government, but often it's regular folk willing to get involved who have the greatest impact.
That could be the case for clients of Umatilla County Mental Health. While the state wrestles with contracting for a new provider for crisis and treatment services in the county, two public support groups are forming that could be every bit as important.
One is a drop-in center called Point of Hope, which will be run by consumers. Still in the planning stages, its members are meeting once a week.
In addition, a community coalition is forming to help support the mentally ill within Umatilla County. It's an attempt to involve county residents not already familiar with mental health services who can help support and advocate for those who are mentally ill.
Supporters envision it as a collaborative effort of families, businesses and Blue Mountain Community College to encourage and empower people struggling with mental illness.
Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc., the Oregon Health Plan insurance provider for the majority of the clients of the county's mental health services, will help organize the community coalition, but its leadership will be local residents.
Yes, government plays a vital role in caring for the mentally ill, from county services to the state psychiatric hospital. But those services are strengthened when the community gets involved. When neighbors care about their neighbors it's a better community for everyone.