Monica Jones got introduced to Albertina Kerr after her daughter attempted suicide. “It was scary!” she says. “It’s not just the kiddo that’s in crisis, the whole family is in crisis.” Even though her daughter was already engaged in mental health services in the community, Jones knew they needed something more intense.

Local nonprofit Albertina Kerr is a place of hope with crisis psychiatric and outpatient care for kids and their families facing mental health challenges, in addition to providing life-saving care for children, teens and adults experiencing intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

“Families and children are struggling,” says Kari Goldstein, R.N., nurse manager for Albertina Kerr’s Children’s Mental Health Services. “The referrals don’t stop and our beds have been more full during the pandemic than in the past three years.”

Before COVID-19 shuttered our way of life, Oregon’s youth were already experiencing high rates of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the youth suicide rate increased 56% between 2007 and 2017. Then came the history-making moments of 2020.

The unprecedented social disruption of 2020 has increased the psychological distress among young people, especially school-aged children. In a September 2020 survey by Mental Health America, over half of 11 to 17-year-olds revealed they had thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Lines for Life, an Oregon suicide prevention hotline, reported a 38% surge in calls to their youth crisis line from March through December of 2020.

“It’s important to have a place like Kerr when you’re in a crisis,” Jones explains. “To know there’s a team supporting you once you walk through the door to the minute that you leave is so vital.” Through Kerr’s therapy sessions, her daughter soon became more talkative. “Where we are as a family and where my daughter is in her mental health journey would not have been possible without Kerr,” Jones exclaims. “There is a major sense of relief that there’s hope.”

According to Goldstein, the need to support families and children who are struggling with mental health is critical because it can be a matter of life and death. “We need to do whatever we can to make sure Kerr’s services stay alive and well and accessible to anyone who needs them,” Jones says.

One way is by participating in the virtual Rip City Race for the Roses, presented by UnitedHealthcare. Proceeds from the race support Albertina Kerr’s life-saving care for children facing mental health challenges, as well as individuals experiencing intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

It’s easy to participate.

  • Choose your distance: a half marathon, 10k, 5k or Nike Made to Play kids’ 1k
  • Register here and use promo code “PoMoRun” for an extra 10% off
  • Run, walk or roll anytime, anywhere during the official race dates: April 25-June 30, 2021
  • All participants receive both a physical and virtual swag bag, with an official race t-shirt, rose-inspired race medal and much more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, get help immediately by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. For a list of warning signs that may indicate a mental health issue and other resources, visit AlbertinaKerr.org/Resources.

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