The statistics in southern Oregon’s Jackson County are both startling and sobering. The suicide rate for young people ages 10 to 22, many of whom are low-income Latinos, is the second highest in the state. Only 67 percent of Jackson County youth graduate from high school, and the poverty level is high.
Youth using local emergency departments for mental health crises skyrocketed 149 percent between 2008 and 2012. Substance abuse and gang involvement have become the unfortunate norm.
In response to a proposal from two partnering agencies in Jackson County, Providence Health Plan in 2013 provided a grant to support a new program called Life Track. The program blends the work and skills of two non-profit organizations – OnTrack, Inc., and LIFE ART – to provide critically needed services that address mental health, substance abuse, gang involvement and suicide issues facing at-risk Latino and other young people.
“The Life Track collaboration allows us to draw on the best of both organizations to create a comprehensive, culturally sensitive, youth-driven program,” said Rita Sullivan, director of the OnTrack organization, which has provided substance abuse prevention and treatment in the community for 40 years. LIFE ART is a grassroots organization that works to connect with youth in the Latino community.
Together, the two organizations created Life Track, which focuses on: education on mental health, anti-bullying, gang involvement, suicide prevention, and substance abuse issues; provision of mental health and substance abuse services; and youth suicide prevention training for community health providers.
“Our most recent Community Needs Assessment shows there is a tremendous need for these types of services in the Medford area. “We’re very glad and honored to help support the Life Track program,” said Cindy Mayo, chief executive at Providence Medford Medical Center.
“Providence's investment in Life Track holds the potential to significantly affect the suicide rate, the substance use and overdose rates and the quality of life skills that high-risk adolescents have as they go out in to the world,” said Sullivan. “We are very grateful for the Providence gift and the flexibility it affords us.”